Monday, June 23, 2008

On the Road Again (or, "I woke up this morning and put on Earlimart’s new disc, Hymn and Her.")

I think I started getting goose bumps near 3 minute mark on track two, Face Down In The Right Town, the part where they start singing “We’ll get back home.” And a little guitar starts comping in time with the snare and it gets all kind of 70’s sounding with the horns and the back-up vocals and then devolves into this kind of breathy throat singing thing. At that point I had definitely shifted my AM gears and came out of the bathroom and stood in front of the stereo speakers in my underwear, with a toothbrush in my mouth. A little dumbfounded.

When track 5 started, God Loves You The Best, and this swelling organ sound and giant drum sound came panning across my living room, I started pacing. Like just in little circles around the coffee table. I didn’t really know how else to relax. I especially loved the tag to the chorus, where they sing “God loves you the best … don’t he.” The “don’t he” bit blew my mind a little. Earlimart had created this great poetic song with really concrete lyrics and imagery and this epic feel, and then Aaron dropped in a little fucked up grammar and it kinda brought me back to reality, for a moment. Just jagged enough to make the experience even real-er.

By the time I got to track 6, Great Heron’s Gates, I broke my “no smoking in the morning” rule (as well as my “no smoking inside” rule) and when you get to track 6 on this record I highly recommend you do the same. Just relax. This song is one of the prettiest songs I have EVER heard and the barest I have heard Earlimart sound. Heartbreaking.

Every part of this song is delicious and perfectly off-balance.

Some would say it sounds like Sparklehorse.

But I would say this tune sounds like something an advanced race of aliens would broadcast thousands of light-years, across the stars, and directly into my stereo to communicate something absolutely important about the human condition that I NEEDED to know. Some kind of urgent warning. “Good on an other-worldly level”, is how I would describe it. To be fair, that is also how I describe Sparklehorse sometimes as well. But only when they are really, really good.

Let me say this : I think Great Heron’s Gates is one of the best fucking songs I have ever heard.

So that is how I fell in love a record this morning. More thoughts after the jump.

Then I kinda took a step back (I’ve spent all day with this record) and tried to analyze it a little more analytically. And one of the most critical parts of the way this record holds together is that it feels really “fresh” (for lack of a better term, ahem, it is hard to wax poetic AND be analytical). The production is keen, but not belabored, not over done. I am pretty sure I have heard every Earlimart record several times, from the really early, raucous, raw, Kingdom of Champions, sort of stuff all the way to the Treble and Tremble era piano-precision pieces.

This record isn’t either of those. It has a certain effortless grace. There aren’t a lot of fingerprints on it – mostly good performances and good songs. Which would seem like such a simple thing to do, right? But as a matter of personal experience have found is incredibly hard to actually accomplish. Keeping it simple isn’t always simple.

So it was a fucking pleasure this morning to put on this record and find this eery equilibrium in every aspect of Hymn and Her’s geometry: the artwork, the lyrics, the songs. It just made me realize that after all the transformations and hard work Earlimart have put into the music, they’re hitting a really good and “graceful” stride. I have always seen them as the "Carter Family" of LA indie rock, because they are an inspiring creative group that touches all the other LA indie acts, but now I feel like I would add the “Jedi Knights of LA indie rock” to their resume as well. If that makes any sense.

The record feels oddly perfect, classy pianos and strings, distortion, George Harrison type guitar solos, angelic choirs – just great ingredients to have in a record. I have listened to this record all morning, and I can’t help but feel that these sounds were not an accident. Earlimart had a game plan and they went out and accomplished it.

But they didn’t over think it, I imagine they just pointed into left field said “that’s where this one is going, “and then took a real big swing – and hit the sweet spot. Which just blows my mind, ‘cause I could NEVER do that. Or rather, have never been able to do that.

The final thing about this record that I love is the level of excitement that Aaron has about it. Usually when I am done recording something, I hate it. No matter how much I loved the song when I started. And I get all insecure and second guess-y and worried about whether it is any good or not.

And that makes it really hard for me to get earnestly excited about something I’ve done that is “coming out”. And I think that Aaron and Ariana have gone through some of that insecurity with previous releases.

But to listen to something like this, and later talking to them and seeing the level of excitement in the band about these songs, and having done all this other stuff and tons of tours and records and STILL being excited, well, hell, it is incredibly impressive and it makes me incredibly proud and truly happy.

It makes me want to play music.

Gotta go.

DOWNLOAD : For The Birds
LINK : Earlimart Myspace

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