Rhythm & Views

Mt. Egypt

It's all about who you know, but a lot of times, who you end up knowing depends on how interesting or talented you are.

Professional skateboarder Travis Graves, the mastermind behind Mt. Egypt, knows some pretty important people: Wayne Coyne, for example, and Willie Nelson, who both took Graves on tour with them as their opening act. Fittingly, Graves' songs sound like a happy medium between Willie Nelson and The Flaming Lips: The songs float and bubble, and the simple melodies expand into loft-sized orchestrations as Graves' quiet, boyish, slightly flat voice somehow fills the space. Nelson and Coyne know Graves for a damn good reason.

"We Are Here" begins the album with synthesized horns playing soft chords and a twangy guitar that provides a nice contrast to the swaying vocals; it sounds like a sleepy, stoned Irish drinking song. "Sing Till I" slowly builds into a sweeping chorus of "I'm gonna sing 'til I don't need a thing to hold on to," with strings and organ, and then "Can You Feel the Wind" thumps into windy Western rock, with a "wooo-oooh" here and an occasional slide guitar there. The strange stories the lyrics tell, about characters like "The Now Penguin," are accented by faraway-sounding guitars or a small shake of a tambourine. This is not the kind of music one would expect from a skateboarder--it's soft, artful, carefully considered and beautifully produced.

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