Nine Black Alps may sound very grungy, very Seattle, and yet they’re actually a Manchester-based alternative rock band. They were formed back in 2003 and have since released 4 albums.
Their very first one was Everything Is and, although it reached the Top 100 in the UK charts, it didn’t exactly change the world of rock forever. Some of its singles were sort of successful but, again, none of the album’s tracks shook the charts too heavily.
Why review it?
Because I actually think it’s pretty underrated and definitely deserves a listen. Besides, the critics, back when the album was released, were generally favourable so maybe there is something audiences were missing.
The album opens on a decidedly energetic note with “Get Your Guns”, which sounds a bit like if Nirvana and Oasis somehow joined forces. It’s a good, solid start to the album, though the song has better verses than it does a chorus. Next up is “Cosmopolitan”, a yelling, relentless The Hives-esque moshpit-friendly burst of angst which is simply a lot of fun. It was, funnily enough, even used in a couple of sports video games, FIFA 06 and Madden NFL 06. Impressively, we soon get another explosive, very cool Nirvana-style song with “Not Everyone”. It’s a moody, catchy track and certainly feels like a hit all the way.
Among a sea of high-octane, super-powered rock songs are a couple of slower tracks where the band reveals an unexpected versatility, much like Pearl Jam does, actually. “Unsatisfied” isn’t a ballad but it’s a slower-paced, melancholic tune with a really strong chorus and it’s definitely one of the most memorable songs on the album. It was used in an episode of TV series One Tree Hill so you might recognise it from there although I’m not convinced anyone actually watched that show when it was on…
“Behind Your Eyes” is one of those acoustic efforts where the band proudly show off their skills as musicians: it’s a melodic, Oasis-esque, surprisingly beautiful little tune you’d need to be pretty cynical to hate. “Intermission” is another very pretty, sweeter acoustic song which, this time, evokes the likes of Jon Brion and even The Beatles.
The fifth track on the album, “Headlights”, is a vibrant, lighter song which quickly develops into a nice melody and which ends up feeling somewhat nostalgic. “Ironside” is a much less subtle but extremely fun song which opens on a heavy, simple but effective riff and is packed full of attitude and swagger, as is its punkier follow-up “Shot Down”, which remains the band’s most successful single to date. It’s another hit which lures you in instantly with its non-stop energy.
Then there’s the entertaining yet slightly repetitive “Just Friends”, “Everybody Is”, which starts off sounding like a Blur song until it reaches its so-so chorus and, last but not least, “Southern Cross”, which ends the album on a good note despite not being quite as catchy as some of the other songs on Everything Is. It’s still a worthy track, though.
All in all, this is a very good grunge/alt. rock album which really should have done better than it did. There’s not a bad song in the bunch and the band is firing on all cylinders from start to finish offering really fun tracks and even the odd poetic tune.
For a debut album, it’s surprisingly effective and, if you enjoy that type of music, chances are you’ll have a ball listening to it.
Everything Is gets no less than 4 Jolly Cobains out of 5.