Review : Elephant Micah - Echoer's Intent / Plays the Songs of Bible Birds
TinymixtapesJoe O’Connell would probably hate to be called anything that reeks of teleology — say, "groundbreaking" or "forward-thinking" — so I’ll have to settle for “revelatory.” Revelation hopefully hints at something that’s already there, has already been there, refracted anew: a snug fit for O’Connell’s particular traditionalism. Having released a steady stream of scarcely-promoted material for the better part of 10 years as Elephant Micah, the southern Indianan is responsible for some of the past decade’s most bread-breakingly stirring music. And with over a dozen full-length releases in various formats, O’Connell sits exactly on the cusp of being too prolific for his own good. (His current label, Time-Lag, has released albums by Charalambides and MV & EE, but, you know, who hasn’t?) But his pair of new releases, Echoer’s Intent and Elephant Micah Plays the Songs of Bible Birds, still provide excellent entry points. Part of the reason for this is the artistic development the two demonstrate: Bible Birds was recorded and vaulted several years ago, soon after O’Connell’s incredibly fertile “And The" sessions, and it is communal and life-affirming; Echoer’s Intent is the secluded, ambivalent work of one man and his guitar. He’s always run the gamut from lo-fi and noise pop to bluegrass and folk, but the juxtaposition through time here is particularly riveting.
Why Plays the Songs of Bible Birds hasn’t seen the light of day until now is anyone’s guess, but it’s a gorgeous and cohesive work of lo-fi. “Cardinals” opens with a drone to split your heart, replete with minute guitarwork and nearly imperceptible vocal loops piling up behind the lead. The potential energy is staggering: the chord doesn’t change until a minute and a half into the song, and it comes off as gravity-defying. It’s the first of many chill-inducers, and how O’Connell keeps them coming — why, for example, the simple bid, “Is this your way to tell me that I’ve gone astray?” in “To Exit This Circular Highway” is one of 2010’s greatest musical moments — is a mystery locked inside the album itself....full text
CommonfolkmeadowI got a bit lazy at Easter and so there were no posts in the last few days – but CFM is back, at least for today. I decided to write some words about one of the two new Elephant Micah releases: Plays The Songs Of Bible Birds. And I have a very strong reason for doing so because I think this is the best folk record of 2010 so far. But let’s start at the beginning. As I first read the news over at Slowcoustic that Elephant Micah was releasing two new albums, I instantly listened to the files provided by the artist for each albums over at Elephant Micah’s band page. Loon Call, the opener of the Echoer’s Intent CD sounded just wonderfully sad and was full of emotions; in the contrary Loop And Lil from Plays The Songs Of Bible Birds was very lo-fi and missed – as I thought after first listen – some deepness. So, due to the amount of money on my bank account, I decided to order only the Echoer’s Intent release. It arrived one or two weeks later and it is a damn wonderful and great acoustic folk record with some good J. Tillman influences (indeed unmistakable). I listened to it over and over and every time I listened to it I got more curious about the other half of the two records. Fortunately there were some good internet spirits that opened up the opportunity to listen to the full album – that’s where the magic begun: One day I worked on my master’s thesis and Plays The Songs Of Bible Bird was in repeat mode – and I think I listened to it 5 or 6 times in a row. Every time it played I got more and more hooked and the album slowly became one of my favorites. That was also the moment I realized I made a mistake by not purchasing both albums in the first place – and so I ordered what I had missed. Leap in time: Three days ago my copy finally arrived here and I’m more than happy that it arrived safe and sound – for in the meantime I listened to it over and over and I got convinced that this has to be the acoustic folk album of the year 2010 (so far)....full text
YoucrazydreamersThe first thing I look for in music regardless of genre or mainstream popularity, is honesty. If I feel that the music is coming from the heart and it’s sincere then I will respect it. I may not always like it but I will at least applaud it for it’s earnestness. This is why I like Elephant Micah, the alter-ego of Joe O’connell. I first wrote about him here where he was kind of enough to grant us an interview and a couple of mp3’s. Since that interview he still hasn’t created a myspace or facebook page and is still intent of getting his music heard by the old fashioned method of word of mouth. Well, this seems to be working as he has an abundance of live dates from now up until at least May.
His latest offerings really show his versatility as a songwriter but also his various musical styles.With Echoer’s intent we have an album which was recorded using more traditional recording methods and is eight tracks of sparse, intense beauty. During the interview Joe did with us I mentioned he reminded me of Low, early Smog and J.Tillman. Well out of those three this album has a definite J.Tillman ring to it although with a less whispery vocal style, especially on the stand out track for me, field notes, but there is definitely elements throughout the whole album, still life blues is another really beautifully written and composed song, you find yourself falling into it and then pressing the rewind button a few times. Personally, I think this is Joe’s best work yet mainly because I think each song flows into each other brilliantly, you hardley notice the gaps in between but you will have to decide for yourself because even at such a young age he has released umpteen albums....full text
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