Elk City – House Of Tongues

at least she doesn’t warble.

at least she doesn’t warble.



Here’s the thing. When a Press Release says that someone has a distinctive voice my toes begin to curl up. When they start banging on about how that voice is muscular and versatile, I get worried and when they suggest that the woman you’re about to listen to will remind you of Regina Spektor and the National’s Matt Berninger (at the same time?) then frankly I’m about ready to put the cd back in the post and return it to the sender. Honestly, who writes this nonsense? Basically, that makes me feel like someone’s trying to say “She sounds a bit weird but I’ve got to sell it to you somehow.” Well don’t. If she has a weird voice, tell me. I can handle distinctive, but sod the rest of the waffle. Anyway, it turns out that Elk City’s front woman, Renee LoBue’s voice isn’t that bad. It’s not a voice I think I’ll ever fall in love with but like Marianne Faithful, Patti Smith and numerous others, it’ll do and I’d rather listen to both of those than Regina Spektor any day. You see, Elk City may build their sound around her vocals but it’s the overall sound I’m most interested in. That’s why we’re here after all.

House Of Tongues is a very well crafted record. It’s the kind of well thought out indie rock that US College Radio falls for in abundance, although thankfully there’s a little more going for these guys than just being radio friendly. Lyrically it’s a bit of a mish mash as far as quality goes – the whole “We’re going out for cocktails and ice cream” section on Nine O’Clock in France gets a bit irritating – but they sure know how to craft a tune. Having added Sean Eden (formerly of the very wonderful Luna) to their ranks must have helped too because he’s ALL OVER this album, throwing some crisp, clean and sharp guitar playing into every single track, and the way the band dovetail with each other is fascinating to listen to. You can check out the last forty five seconds or so of every track, just about, to see what I mean. 

At the end of the day though the album – and the band – will live or die on whether or not you like LoBue’s vocals. She’s not that distinctive, no matter what the Press Release would have us believe, but you should definitely give her a chance. At least she doesn’t warble.

It’s good stuff. You should listen to it. There, now that didn’t take much of a hard sell now did it?