The best album of 2014 does not come from the UK. It does not come from America either. In fact, it’s not by any artist you have probably even heard of (and if you have heard of them; kudos to you!).
Nope, this year’s best album comes from a blues rock band from a rural industrial town in the fjords of western Norway, called “Tiebreaker”, and their debut album “We Come From The Mountains”.
The band was formed in 2011, and despite their humble origins have already been on the roster for the SXSW Music Festival in Texas for the last two years. Their debut album was recorded in between gigs, and was released digitally on October 13, 2014, with physical release on CD and limited edition vinyl today, October 20. They play a heavy and almost grunge-like form of southern blues rock, as if Led Zeppelin and Pearl Jam had a love child, and they do it well. The songs are all self-penned, most of them by guitarist Eirik Wik Haug and their Keith Moon-on-a-suger-rush drummer, Pål Gunnar Dale, both of whom have also co-produced the album. Two of the songs, “Where can Love Go Wrong” and “The Getaway” have also been issued as digital singles.
The first thing that strikes you with the album is the -yet-beautiful vocals by Thomas Espeland Karlsen, a strange mixture of Chris Cornell and Eddie Vedder that really adds to the grunge feel of the album. Combined with Wik Haug’s Texas style guitar solos reminiscent of ZZ Top and Skynyrd, and the steady rhythm work from bass guitarist, Patrick Andersson, the aforementioned Dale, and their studio keyboardist for the album, Jonas Særsten, it evolves to an amazing sound of real, raw southern rock. Another positive for the album, which many albums fail to achieve today, is that the songs all have unique qualities that separate them and make them all great in their own way. You don’t end up with the typical “one-hit-single-and-ten-copies-of-it” album that seems to have become the norm for many artists today. Honestly, there really isn’t any weak points in the album, the only downside being that it stops at nine tracks with you wishing for more.
The album is self-released through Norwegian label Lyd iLøo Studios, who also did the recording and mixing, but should you choose to go for the limited, cherry red vinyl edition (which you should anyway), know that it was mastered and cut at Abbey Road Studios (yes, THAT Abbey Road). When comparing the vinyl with the Spotify version, there was notable difference in favor of the vinyl. At the end, that becomes one of the only downsides; the digital versions fail to live up the vinyl.
+ A refreshing and heavy take on the classic southern rock
+ Every song carries its own – no one hit wonder here
+ The entire album is a strong effort, no songs that you’ll skip on the second play Cons:
- You end up wishing the album had been longer (forty minutes ain’t bad though)
- Digital versions lack the oomph that the vinyl has – which is a bummer for non-turntablists
Review is based on the vinyl edition of the album, as delivered directly from the band. Comparisons between digital and vinyl were done using high quality stereo equipment, turntable, cables and highest available quality settings.