Mountain Man (band)
|Origin||Bennington, Vermont, U.S.|
|Genres||Indie, folk, a cappella|
|Labels||Partisan, Bella Union, Spunk, P-Vine|
|Associated acts||Feist, Bobby, Alt-J, Sylvan Esso, Daughter of Swords|
Amelia Randall Meath
Mountain Man is an American singing trio of women described as "nestled in the tradition of American folk" with a traditional Appalachian folk sound. They have earned acclaim from a number of music critics. They often sing a cappella, with a "sparse, haunting, hymnal beauty" sometimes accompanied by soft acoustic guitar, but with their voices "virtually unadorned", according to Guardian critic Paul Lester. The group toured with the vocalist Feist in 2011, and New York Times music reviewer Ben Ratliff described their performance as "creating shifting harmonies" which "worked perfectly".
The three members of the group are Molly Erin Sarle, Alexandra Sauser-Monnig and Amelia Randall Meath. They met as students at Bennington College in Vermont and began singing seriously together in 2009. (They were invited back to Bennington a decade later in 2019 to be the commencement speakers.)Two come from "singing families" and one got experience singing in a church choir. They were influenced in part by Bulgarian women's choir music, as well as artists such as Celine Dion. According to one report, they would sit on the porch of a shared house in Bennington and harmonize on songs they had written; when they sang as a trio, they realized it was "something special." Self-released recordings were picked up by influential blogs such as Pitchfork in late 2009, and they got a record deal with the label Partisan and others. They've been compared to the musical group The Roches.
While they make decisions as a group, often they divide responsibilities, with Meath often assuming the "manager role," Sarlé handling finances, and Sauser-Monnig deciding matters about sound quality in recordings, according to the group in an interview on NPR. They toured the country after graduating from college by riding in a car which they named Delores. Their first album is entitled Made the Harbor on the label Partisan Records (North America), Bella Union (Europe), Spunk (Australia), and P-Vine (Japan). They toured with The Decemberists and with Jónsi. They toured in Europe. One of their folk harmony songs was converted into electropop by multi-instrumentalist Paul Duncan of Warm Ghost.
- 2010 Made the Harbor
- 2018 Magic Ship (Nonesuch Records)
- 2019 Mountain Man Sings John Denver EP
- 2020 Look at Me Don't Look at Me
Washington Post music critic David Malitz described their voices as "nectar-sweet" which was almost "jarring in its simplicity" with no distractions from the trio's voices. New York Times music critic Nate Chinen described their sound as "sparse, bewitching twist on Appalachian music" with a feeling of "willful, collective intuition." Their music sounds as if it's "being sung by ghosts", "spectral and spooky", when they echo "folk songs about the forest" as well as "the bedroom". National Public Radio gave a similar account and described their music as weaving "voices into a stark, reverent and unadorned sound that can be hauntingly beautiful."
Other reactions include:
Long on ghostly voices and skeletal arrangements, the music made by Molly Erin Sarle, Alexandra Sauser-Monnig and Amelia Randall Meath on their Made The Harbor album – recorded in an abandoned factory – sounds like a cousin to that made in Bon Iver's snowbound bolt hole. Impressively, Mountain Man have created a music from another time and place, a closed environment they're now opening up to all.
The tunes — despite being originals written in the last two years — sound like they could be early-century hymns, or covers of protofolk tunes gleaned from old Smithsonian field recording compilations. Mountain Man's sound would have the listener assuming its members are old-timey Appalachian maidens, rather than coeds touring in a Prius.
Sauser-Monnig released her debut solo album, Dawnbreaker, under the name Daughter of Swords in July 2019. Molly Sarlé released her debut solo album, entitled Karaoke Angel, in September 2019. Amelia Meath is a member of the electronic duo Sylvan Esso which has released three full-length albums, the most recent being Free Love, released September 2020. In addition, Meath and Sarle contribute their vocal talents to the indie music group BOBBY.
- "Pop and Rock Listings". The New York Times: Music. December 9, 2010. Retrieved 2011-03-03.
- Amanda Hatfield (September 9, 2011). "Mountain Man backing Feist on tour (dates)". Brooklyn Vegan. Retrieved 2011-09-19.
It's recently been announced that Feist is taking Molly Erin Sarle, Alexandra Sauser-Monnig and Amelia Randall Meath, aka the voices of folk trio Mountain Man, on tour with her this fall ...
- "Daughter of Swords". Daughter of Swords. Retrieved 2019-11-25.
- Rita Houston (March 2, 2011). "Mountain Man: No Instruments Required". NPR. Retrieved 2011-03-03.
- "Mountain Man". Underwater Peoples. 2011-03-03. Archived from the original on 2011-07-17. Retrieved 2011-03-03.
- Zara Golden (August 9, 2010). "Mountain Man". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2011-03-03.
- Paul Lester (7 June 2010). "Mountain Man (No 802): Inspired by the traditional folk, country and Appalachian stylings of Gillian Welch, this trio are the female Fleet Foxes". The Guardian. Retrieved 2011-03-03.
- David Malitz (July 27, 2010). "Review of Mountain Man's album 'Made the Harbor'". Washington Post. Retrieved 2011-03-03.
- Ben Ratliff (November 3, 2011). "A Voice of Gray Moods, Joined by 100 Whistlers". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-11-13.
The women sang isolated parts and created steady shifting harmonies ... Their sound worked perfectly here...
- "Commencement | Bennington College". Bennington.edu. Retrieved 2020-03-09.
- Jessica Hopper (October 29, 2010). "So far, so fast for women of Mountain Man". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2011-03-03.
- Erick Sermon (March 2011). "Warm Ghost – Uncut Diamond EP -- Partisan Records: 2011". Music Nerdery. Retrieved 2011-05-08.
- "Mountain Man New Live Album, 'Look at Me Don't Look at Me,' Out Now on Nonesuch Records". Nonesuch Records. August 7, 2020. Retrieved August 8, 2020.
- Nate chinen (August 16, 2010). "Wilco Builds a Festival for Itself". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-03-03.
- Nate chinen (August 1, 2011). "The 3 Women of Mountain Man, in Perfect Harmony". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-09-19.
The lack of amplification was a reminder, if any were needed, of rural Vermont... willful, collective intuition
- "Newport Folk 2011: Mountain Man, Live In Concert". NPR. July 31, 2011. Retrieved 2011-09-19.
weaves its voices into a stark, reverent and unadorned sound that can be hauntingly beautiful.
- John Robinson (19 June 2010). "Mountain Man, Manchester, London". The Guardian. Retrieved 2011-03-03.
- Greene, Linnie (July 9, 2019). "Daughter of Swords: Dawnbreaker". Pitchfork. Retrieved February 15, 2020.
- Wicks, Amanda (September 23, 2019). "Molly Sarlé: Karaoke Angel". Pitchfork. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
- "Sylvan Esso | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 2021-01-04.
- Anthony Carew (May 23, 2011). "Introducing: Bobby". About.com. Archived from the original on August 7, 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-24.