Common Prayer
"There Is A Mountain"

(Virtual/Big Potato 2010)Common Prayer - There Is A Mountain

No offense to NYC, but lately there is a certain stigma attached to music coming out of trendy Brooklyn. Designer acts with premature blog heavy praise is enough to make anyone suspicious of musicians calling BK home. So we have Common Prayer. A nine-piece outfit headlined by Jason Sebastian Russo on lead guitar and vocals, tin bucket and clarinet whiz Alexandra Marvar, percussionist John Anderson, and cellist Karen Codd.

I already begin to cringe as I read that their debut album, "There Is A Mountain," was recorded in a cow barn somewhere called Hill Farm. Painfully reminiscent of albums penned by Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver, and several other rustic leaning indie musicians, I prepare myself for the ordinary.

But despite my cynicism, Common Prayer is pleasantly convincing. The combination of Russo's caustic delivery (bringing to mind Clap Your Hands Say Yeah) and the hodge podge of organic instruments feel very charming and genuine. Russo's yelping evokes a youthful jest on opening track "commonprayer" and the electronic metronome ticking "Hopewell." Standout single "Us vs. Them" places a wistful Russo crooning over a swelling cello and dreamy piano led chorus.

While the album begins on a high note the final third gets a little sleepy (albeit in a good way with "You, Aloft") until the appropriately final track "Everything and More." As a thoughtful piano leads into the group harmony "We may never pass this way again/This could be the last time my friend," the final crescendo brings me to tears for ever having doubted them.

Despite the 718 area code, the collection of off-the wall instruments, and a band mate with the name Mikey Peanuts, Common Prayer bring a pure and youthful sound, further proving the age old adage, you can't judge a band by its BK address.


buy it!