Album Reviews

Earlimart – Everyone Down Here

(Vagrant) UK release date: 9 June 2003

Earlimart - Everyone Down Here Earlimart, named after a small town in California, are a band built around the voice, song-writing and arranging skills of Aaron Espinoza. Everyone Down Here is their second album and follows an EP, The Avenues, which made some waves in West Coast indie circles. If The Avenues made waves, Everyone Down Here will make tsunami.

The album opens full of promise and a frisson of despair with the trans-teen-adult angst of We’re So Happy (We Left The Piano In The Truck). This is as wistfully weary as anything this year, Aaron Espinoza whispering across the drone of the prettiest tune, in a manner not dissimilar to Courtney Taylor-Taylor of The Dandy Warhols.

Deeper in, Lost At Sea begins slower than an approaching tide but suddenly explodes into punky frenzy before going down gear again into a chugging metallic close, a minimal masterpiece. And who says Americans don’t do irony – Hospital has a beautiful catchy tune while its words have a boy stuck in a hospital in mid-summer telling his friends “I’ll be there soon”, when the implication is that he will be 10 feet under.

Big Ol’ Black is an eerie song about “black bugs crawling inside of us”. It has a gently insistent echoing guitar riff that is so simple but so effective, and accompanies a ghostly vocal that makes you feel claustrophobic and ill (yes, that’s meant positively).

If there is any criticism it is that the track Dream Of is one lachrymose song too many, and the thought that it might be two too many crossed my mind on the final track Night, Nite. I was just about to button back to one of the earlier better pieces when an inventive middle-eight stopped me with a sequence of strange squeaks and whistles.

Like other takes here, this is a technical orchestration of pure and original charm, becoming almost a sound poem. And the album is full of such surprises, soft-cushioning the best tracks and enhancing them with a consistent mood and colour.

Those who like Grandaddy or Sonic Youth should check out Everyone Down Here. Earlimart’s sound is less dense and their quirky version of modern doom is their own, but the lineage is there. As is that of indie rock icons, Pixies, evidenced on the guitar work of We Drink On The Job and Burning The Cow.

And if the beginning of the superb track, The Movies, does not remind you of John Lennon‘s Imagine then I’ll chew my belt until my jeans fall down. But having acknowledged these influences, Earlimart are distinctly Earlimart, as familiar-fresh as a new friend. This band could, should, with material as fine as this, break into the Brit indie market or beyond. Everyone Down Here is a quiet thrill.

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