There’s not a lot of information included with Bottomless Pit’s second album, Blood Under the Stars. There are no songwriting, production or performance credits. There are no lyrics. There are no acknowledgements or thank yous. There are no photos of the band. Even the press release accompanying advance copies of the album is limited to four sentences about the album. One might interpret this as an attempt to retain a sense of mystique or anonymity, but more importantly, the stark (albeit neon orange) packaging places the burden on the music to make its own statement, which would be a bold move for a greenhorn. But former Silkworm members Tim Midgett and Andy Cohen are veterans at letting the music do the speaking, reaching a graceful new peak on this second full length.
Continuing in the tuneful and slow burning vein of their 2007 debut, Bottomless Pit take a decidedly measured and dignified approach. Even on a track like the ragged “Late Dixon,” in which Cohen belts out such misanthropic lines as “there’s so many fuckers in this world…to line up,” there’s a sense of ease and space that permeates the song. It’s loud and raw, but performed with a sense of restraint typically reserved for post-rock. The duality of Bottomless Pit’s raw moments against their dreamier, spacious melodies is ultimately what makes Blood Under the Bridge not only unique, but likewise rewarding.
Backed once again by Seam’s Chris Manfrin and .22’s Brian Orchard, Bottomless Pit open up their second album with a mellow, Krautrock-influenced groove in “Winterwind,” a slowly unfolding and hypnotic leadoff track that serves as a baseline from which the band will both escalate and return to. The gorgeous “Rhinelander” finds Cohen and Midgett tapping into the Neil Young influence that has been a part of their oeuvre since their Silkworm days, crafting a bluesy and low-key highlight. By third track “Summerwind,” however, the band begins to inject some mighty rock ‘n’ roll chug into their soulful melodies, and hammer out their most furious riffs on the album’s (kind of) untitled centerpiece.
Cohen and Midgett very rarely stir up a sense of urgency in their songs, rather preferring a more subdued melodic approach. That doesn’t mean they don’t rock, in fact, on the whole Blood Under the Bridge is a considerably heavy album, thanks in large part to the group’s rhythm section. But that heaviness is more about foundation than antagonism. But it was smart of the band to let their music speak for itself; no amount of marketing could capture the strength and the beauty within these 9 songs.
Polvo – Exploded Drawing
Sun Kil Moon – Ghosts of the Great Highway
Silkworm – Firewater
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.