The last time Mount Moriah played in DC (opening for Mirah at the Rock and Roll Hotel), guitarist/vocalist Heather McEntire couldn’t contain her enthusiasm, telling the sold-out crowd “this is the best show ever.”
A lot has happened to the trio out of Chapel Hill since then, most notably the release of their stellar sophomore album Miracle Temple. McEntire’s voice calls to mind Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris as much as ever, but Miracle Temple is leaps and bounds past the band’s self-titled debut. It’s easy – almost too easy – to label Mount Moriah’s music alt-country, but the term doesn’t do them justice. It is, instead, music of the cloth it’s cut from; McEntire spent her early career with an indie rock outfit called Bellafea, while guitarist Jenks Miller spent his time in the infinitely more psychedelic (and “Southern” sounding) Horseback. When the two met at (where else?) a record store, the worlds collided.
While Mount Moriah is a subtle, brooding record with flashes of beautiful anger (“Lament” is a highlight), Miracle Temple is a crisp, confident burst of energy and twang that’s perfect for throwing the windows open and bopping around the house. Or, in this case, bopping around DC9. It’s the opposite of a sophomore slump, and the songs are wonderful when performed live.
Opening act Blessed Feathers, made up of Donivan Berube and Jacquelyn Beaupre, hails from West Bend, Wisconsin but are already well traveled; their 2012 EP Peaceful Beasts in an Ocean of Weeds is a wonderful five song travelogue. The slow-burning Western Massachusetts anthem “Holyoke/Springfield” may be the highlight (though they likely won’t make any friends in the area they describe as “living in the asshole of a shit castle.”)
Both bands are fresh off numerous well-reviewed shows at SXSW; don’t miss your chance to see them in your own backyard.