Sunday, August 30, 2009

Don't Call them Foolish, They Know the Ghosts in this Town.

A few weeks ago I got my hands on a copy of Eep!, the latest EP by Los Angeles two-piece Lazy Loons. Lazy Loons is made up of Phil Freedman & Dane Rivera, both sing, play guitar, autoharp & drums. Phil also plays bass & banjo on Eep! while Dane plays thumb piano & handled producing & mixing. The EP was recorded in Dane's home in "a suburb outside LA proper." When asked about the concepts behind Eep! Lazy Loons replied, "Spooky. A little bit scary, maybe. Haunted. Like an old house kinda thing."

Simply put, Eep! is music made by kids who love music--from Sinatra to Talking Heads, from Tom Waits to Grizzly Bear. It's schizophrenic, it's eerie, & it likes to taunt you. Eep! is a low-fi collection littered w/ voices, sighs, stereo-pans & other nuances. The songs are strong, well written, & have a lot of replay value, w/ undertones of distrust, depression, disappointment & the inevitable. As well as the above mentioned Lazy Loons sites inspiration from The Beatles, Sly & the Family Stone, & Édith Piaf for this EP.

It opens w/ Aligator Waltz (yes, 1 L) a two part song that sounds like a hazy dream hosted by a drunk Frank Sinatra only to wake up in a gondola on the Missisipi piloted by an adolescent Tom Waits. (I seem to like music that makes me feel like I'm on water these days.) Dane uses two distinctly different voices here, while Phil changes from lone member of an angelic choir--harp & all--to a ghost trying to remember a tune stuck in his head. It's all weaved together w/ layers of thumb piano & guitars.

When you reach shore you find Alice; a song which I have decided is the wooing of a poltergeist. Phil & Dane share vocals w/ friend Richard Najar of Richard and His Boyishly Handsome Band. It's mixed in a way that transitions between the three vocalists w/ Phil in stereo, Richard in the right, and Dane in the left--sometimes finishing each other's sentences, other times others becoming a chorus. Throughout the song is a childish giggling--which verges on the sound of crying @ times--and Grizzly Bear-like harmonies.

On Jay Em Berry they are joined by Victor, another friend who may or may not have a last name, on accordion. Where Alice plays w/ voices that move left & right Jay Em Berry has vocals which seem to come forward and move back. I imagine a cold & sad Hook in his captain's quarters rocking in a stationary chair while mumbling out this song. It's guitar has a jewelry box sound about it, while the accordion is sparse & dreary. My favorite part is a toss up between the the loud exhale in the beginning, the panning snare drum in the middle, & the strange bass-like guitar @ the end.

Foolish Boa blows me away--catchy whinny lyrics & acoustic guitar over beautiful autoharp, harmonies, & panning tambourine versus screeching guitar that verges on nails on a chalkboard. It's like a battle between chaos & harmony or the two making love, I'm not sure.

Pastel may be the quintessential song of Eep! It's haunted sound taunts you, it's changes tease you, & it's beat makes you sway. It builds a tension in you and tells you it will melt it all away, but it never does. It's good but makes you feel as if you missed something so you want to listen again. It's mood could be described as the disappointment of content.

A.M. Ghosts is a three part song that goes from meshing perfectly w/in the EP to a becoming almost too rhythmic for it, to what I can only assume is where they are going next. It starts off w/ what sounds like some sort of alien bird call; then comes in these hopeless vocals accompanied by distant harmonies & upfront guitar--the essential sound of Eep! The final strum leads to a more rhythmic groove. Dane's vocal delivery is reminiscent of Pastel & two tracks of overlaying self backed vocals--each have there own speaker & play like call & response. The rhythm guitar is like string piece from something by Curtis Mayfield. When the drumming stops & the beat boxing comes in we're not in that old haunted house anymore. Phil takes over vocals & that crazy Foolish Boa guitar is back w/ a more bubbly shape. Soon backing vocals & guitar fight for attention while Phil testifies that he deserves to be heard. A final guitar flourish then it's just the beat boxing & Dane comes back in w/ vocals similar to the beginning of the song: I never feel quite alright, perfectly summing up the mood of the EP.

My Favorite Track
A.M. Ghosts

Most accessible Track
Foolish Boa

You can listen to more Lazy Loons (or more smoothly) on their or MySpace pages. Lazy Loons is working on new material & reworking old material.

P.S. I just got permission to provide download for this EP. Download Eep!

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