Elf Power formed in 1994 and over the last 16 years have released ten albums, two eps, a handful of singles, while also touring America, Europe, and Japan. The Athens, Georgia pioneers have readied their tenth studio album for release - a self-titled, dozen-song sonic totem, representing the group's spiritual endurance and their continued relevance as the flagship band of the celebrated psych-rock scene, which they helped forge over a decade and a half ago. The new record conveys a unique synthesis of expansion and space, as deft rhythmic interplay, thoughtful instrumental flourishes, and subtle hands at the mixing-board frame all contribute to the Elves' lithe, powerful folk-rock, and the frank, beautiful lyrical exposition that's come to be expected from head songwriter Andrew Rieger.
"Elf Power" is dedicated to the memory of dear friend, mentor, and close collaborator Vic Chesnutt, who committed suicide in late 2009. Chesnutt was long a guiding light in the close-knit Athens community; the Elves recorded a collaborative album, "Dark Developments," with Chesnutt in 2008 and toured extensively with him through the years. Elf Power's latest album found shape in the vacuum caused by Vic's loss, and finds the band exploring the void created by his departure.
Tracked initially by Andy LeMaster (REM, Bright Eyes, Drive By Truckers) at his studio Chase Park Transduction, then brought to bassist/engineer Derek Almstead's home studio out in the Athenian sticks for overdubbing, rumination, and general tweaking, this double-faceted strategy proved beneficial for the development of the album as a whole. LeMaster's nearly-transparent sheen lent the record a fundamental sonic purity and muscularity that makes for great listening in the car. A return, however, to the familiar realms of home-recording encouraged the Elves to harken back to their initial experimental and communal forays. Freedom from the tyranny of the ticking studio clock allowed for key contributions from old Elephant 6 pals Will Cullen Hart and Bill Doss of the Olivia Tremor Control and some characteristically esoteric instrumentation: Circulatory System's John Fernandes' and Heather McIntosh (recently of Gnarls Barkley and Lil Wayne's touring bands), contributing string arrangements; the beautiful Mellotron they borrowed from REM; and Laura Carter's contagious Moog and drummer Eric Harris' experiments with fidelity and texture.
This duality in production makes for a layered and varied listen. Opening track "The Taking Under" is an otherworldly collision of warped 1950s balladry and tripped out, cavernous drumming, pinned together by majestic string flourishes. "Wander Through" is a frantic explosion of joyful noise, filled with wild riffing and bizarre sound effects. Songs like "Tiny Insects" and "Ghost of John" conjure a meeting between the heavy, dark and prog-informed pop of The Soft Boys' "Underwater Moonlight" and the fuzzed-out, giddy bedroom psych of New Zealand weirdos and Elf Power associates Tall Dwarves. Gentler, more-pensive moments like the country-tinged, yet simultaneously futuristic, "Stranger in the Window" and the heart-tearing "Little Hand" allow the Elves to dive headlong into folk music that sounds at once both modern and traditional. In terms of unlikely sonic execution, "Elf Power" makes literal what Andrew Rieger sings overtop of the cut-loose garage pop of "Goldmine in the Sun:" the ending is hard to conceive." Easy thumbnail comparisons such as these are handy; this record, however, is very much its own entity within a wider pantheon and the band's formidable discography. "Elf Power" finds the group exploring darker places melodically and texturally in what might be their most fully conceived and rewarding album ever.
"Elf Power" sees release on September 14, 2010 on the band's own label, Orange Twin Records. The label works in conjunction with The Orange Twin Conservation Community, 155 acres of beautiful land on the outskirts of Athens that has initiated the development of a highly progressive, self-sustainable and ecologically-minded cluster village and nature preserve.
Feb. 2008 "iCARUS HiMSELF" EP/CD (self release)
Oct. 2008 "Comp Elation" Madison/Minneapolis Comp LP/CD
April 2009 "Coffins" LP/CD (Science of Sound)
May 2010 "Mexico" EP/CD (Science of Sound)
Icarus Himself "Mexico" EP Press:
âSo even for all the slackers and all the poseurs out at various posts, Whetroâs stuff is exceptionally serious and remarkably superb. "Mexico" is a bold step forward in every possible manner: itâs composed, itâs creative, and itâs excellent.â - Delusions of Adequacy
"A-" - Onion AV Club
"Icarus Himselfâs new EP Mexico gives you everything the Old West couldnât: comfort, reliable weaponry, and a guaranteed payout in nuggets. Then with its other hand it delivers electronics, baritone guitars and some lines about overweight babysittersâ"double kill!" - COKEMACHINEGLOW
"I may be projecting, but it sounds like a band absentmindedly playing music while they think back on the defining moments of their lives. It could be the sound of heartbreak in a small town or a silent prayer for something as beautiful as it was in a memory. It could be the soundtrack to a dream or it could just be the sound of a thousand thoughts jammed into five songs." - Tough Customer
Icarus Himself "Coffins" LP Press:
"If you want to get Coffins in a single sound bite, try âlost Bowie demo tape overdubbed with acid confessions.â That should warm you up for Whetroâs eleven-track, half-hour romp and prepare you for what first feels like alt-country experiments with a lunatic wailing at the back." - cokemachineglow
"...freewheeling pop songs flavored with a splash of sonic whiskey." - No Ripcord
"..takes the refined distortion of the National Beekeepers and combines it with his wry and quirky vocals to make what I can only categorize as basement tape beauty." - Dane101
"Where many have compared the guy to Beirut and Neutral Milk Hotel (Iâll give you the lite-psych of âThis Means Nothingâ) but to these ears itâs more Spoon-noir shuffling." - World of Wumme
"..fans of bedroom pop and maybe, just maybe Neutral Milk Hotel will dig Icarus Himself.." - 24hourpartypooper
"..this ain't a party record. In fact it'd probably go down a storm at the National Society of Depressives annual disco if they had one." - The Devil Has The Best Tuna
"iCARUS HiMSELF" EP PRESS:
"The solo outlet of National Beekeepers Society's Nick Whetro. Icarus Himself emphasizes what lurks under NBS's reassuring guitar fuzz...he accompanies his death 'n' degradation tales with lonely echoes, double-tracked vocals, and the occasional drum machine." - THE ONION - A/V Club
"...sounds like meeting someone exactly like yourself, but better in almost every way..." - justsayingisall.com
"Confused characters traipse through a cold, ill-fated world, in which everything and everyone are imperfect and death rattles the bones of both the living and the dead." - Isthmus
"...Whetro makes great use of macabre lyrics over music that is oftentimes soft, or at the very least unassuming." - DELUSIONS OF ADEQUACY
"It's minimal goodness emotive enough with piano and space to keep me wanting more." - World of Wumme
High Noon Saloon
701A E. Washington Ave.
Madison, WI 53703
|Minimum Age: 18|
|Kid Friendly: No|
|Dog Friendly: No|
|Wheelchair Accessible: No|