I’d like to introduce you to another member of the Johnny Rotten/Sid Vicious school of kickass names: Joseph Ferocious. Frontman and co-founder of Staten Island’s Cymbals Eat Guitars, Ferocious (born Joseph D’Agostino) and drummer Matthew Miller were barely out of high school when they teamed up with keyboard player Brian Hamilton and bassist Neil Berenholz to record the group’s debut, “Why There Are Mountains.”

Barely six months have passed since the indie rock album was bestowed with a “Best New Music” label by Pitchfork Media, and the group is now busy gearing up for a European tour. Not too shabby for a band who self-released their debut and is still listed as “unsigned” on their MySpace page.

Cymbals Eat Guitars

For all you passive music enthusiasts out there who like to hit play and then get on with your daily lives, I’m letting you know upfront that “Why There Are Mountains” is not one of those albums you can just hear; this gem begs to be LISTENED to. Each track is like two or three songs in one, with seemingly haphazard structures and a mishmash of influences that somehow consistently work together to create something both familiar and fresh. On first listen, I found myself jotting such notes as “’90s-era emo vocals,” “the whimsy of the Beatles,” and “moments of Radiohead-like intensity,” and that was all in regards to the opening track, “And the Hazy Sea.”

The variety of sounds that the group has packed into this album boggles the mind. The seven-minute “Share” begins with a monkish humming over piano, then kicks in with a guitar line that makes me really want to see what these guys can do live (Any of you catch their show at the Troubadour with Pains of Being Pure at Heart and The Depreciation Guild last month? Fill me in if you did.), all before finishing with the sound of the wind. While many of the tracks are experimental and dark, others, such as “Wind Phoenix (Proper Name),” are catchy and upbeat, and Ferocious’ lyrics are like the musings of a stranger sitting a few stools down from you in a near-empty bar, a bit cryptic and a whole lot more interesting than the silent baseball game playing on the TV. As soon as you get a chance, I recommend you set aside 45 minutes of your life and give “Why There Are Mountains” a good LISTEN.

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