Local Spotlight: Earwig Re-Releases “Gibson Under Mountain”
Columbus' own alt-rockers re-release their excellent 2011 studio album and give CU's readers an exclusive live video debut
Today, Columbus’ indie-rock sons Earwig are re-releasing their 2011 album, Gibson Under Mountain.
Perhaps one of Earwig’s least-known recordings, the album, which followed 2006’s Center of the Earth and preceded their most recent release, 2016’s Pause for the Jets was, by the band’s own admission “criminally under-promoted” when it initially arrived.
“We released what I think is one of our best albums, but we did not send it out for press reviews,” lead guitarist, vocalist and founding member Lizard McGee explained. “We kind of choked as far as promoting the record.”
And so a second chance for Gibson Under Mountain should be an incredibly welcome affair not just for Earwig’s current legion of followers, but for anyone who thirsts for a well-constructed rock record buoyed by a band with such obvious chemistry. McGee’s youthful vocals have excellent range that push his melodies skyward above the tight buzz of layered guitars throughout, but each track has memorable moments and nuances that make most of these good candidates for radio singles.
Opening track “Trees” is immediately engaging and infectious with its thumping rhythm sections and its ebb-and-flow arrangement, a trend that also makes subsequent tracks like “Star Cross’d” and “Not About You” equally satisfying. There’s a break in pace for the ballad “Her Heart,” which lets McGee flex his softer vox on the verses while building to an undeniably singable chorus with a great harmony-infused countermelody.
Things pick up again with the chunkier pulse of “Lovesong Cockroach,” and then even further for “Sleepyhead” — quite possibly the set’s catchiest. “Next Christmas” begins with a folksy acoustic guitar line and McGee stepping occasionally into falsetto, but eventually ramps up to a grittier finish. “Glorious and Gloom” re-invokes what the band’s press kit aptly describes as “taut vocals,” with super-polished harmonies that craftily match the intensity of their guitar-drenched background.
Finishing out the track list is “Rumplestiltskin,” a brassy rocker that transforms McGee’s voice into a stadium-worthy yelp that bounces on top of a final frenzy of drums crashes and guitar crunches before the song abruptly fades.
Under the steady hand of local producer Mike Landolt, who engineered Maroon 5’s debut album Songs About Jane, O.A.R’s King and All Sides, and Train’s signature single, “Meet Virginia,” Gibson Under Mountain‘s production feels concise and cohesive without erasing the band’s winsome eccentricities.
Columbus Underground has also been given the exclusive premiere of a previously unreleased live video of the track “Trees.”
Earwig is currently working on a new album slated to be released later this year. In the meantime, Gibson Under Mountain is a strong testament to one of Columbus’ best-kept musical secrets that absolutely deserves a broader audience.