Nine Black Alps Everything Is

Did anyone order up a grunge revival? Didn’t think so, but the UK music press jumped on Nine Black Alps as the leaders of some sort of nu-grunge movement, much to the public’s ignorance of such a thing. It’s certainly no fault of this young Manchester band, but still, they do indeed sound like Seattle circa ’91. Produced by Rob Schnapf (Beck, Elliott Smith, Foo Fighters), Everything Is, their debut album, isn’t short on the fuzz-drenched guitars, unnecessary feedback and the odd acoustic standout to show they’re not just youngsters channelling angst through their amps. Idlewild pulled this all off with their debut album eight years ago and have finely-tuned their songwriting prowess to a tee, so maybe NBA can do the same? Well, no, not really. Everything Is isn’t a half-bad trial for a new, young band, but for every decent single they have in them like "Unsatisfied,” they have two more banal numbers that lower them to tribute act status. "Shot Down” is the most suspect of all, sounding a little too close to Pearl Jam’s "State of Love and Trust” during its verses. The fact that they hired Schnapf, who helped the long-forgotten Vines steal the soul from Nirvana, makes a lot of sense, but it only really adds some crispness to those roaring guitars. Everything Is shouldn’t be condemned for its attempt to honour a sub-genre that is still cherished by many. It’s an album that just doesn’t bring anything new whatsoever to the table and instead simply gathers a couple of decent songs amongst a majority of weak ones — like every second album out there. (Island)