Art pop band Elk City offers their latest audio-visual delight ‘Don’t You Wanna Try’, an anti-anthem for anyone living outside of societal norms. This is a stunning slice of what is on offer on their recently released ‘Above The Water’ album, out now via Magic Door Record Label. This follows ‘Floating Above The Water’, these two videos filmed by H. Robert Escurel during the band’s life performance at Union Pool in Brooklyn.
Drummer-producer Ray Ketchem and vocalist-artist Renée LoBue have helmed Elk City since 2000, opening new chapters into their sound across 5 albums and 3 EPs. But with their 2022 LP, Above the Water, they’ve abandoned the script altogether, and that has everything to do with the group’s current lineup, which features guitarists Sean Eden (Luna), Chris Robertson (Psychedelic Furs side project Feed) and bassist Richard Baluyut (Versus).
“Putting music first was never a question for me, yet some around me questioned my choices. As years went on, the same people would tell me how I’ve inspired them for sticking to my creative guns. I’ve always known there is no blueprint for what a woman should want out of life. We are not all the same. The meat of the lyrics appear at the song’s end, “In another way I can be a light – for all those who doubt,” says Renée LoBue.
Ray Ketchem adds, “We were harnessing real anger and conversely finding strength. The song is about believing that you can be whatever you want in this world by discounting judgement of people who don’t understand you. The distorted sludge of the fuzz bass blossoms and reveals inner beauty as Renee exclaims “I can be a light for all those who doubt!”.
It’s always nighttime in Elk City – the same nighttime where Big Star liked to see the people. The same nighttime where that ol’ killing moon often comes too soon. The ‘Above the Water’ LP is that particular stripe of evocative post-everything rock ‘n’ roll, exalted and earthy at once, revelling in the joy of experience. Because that’s exactly how these songs got written in the first place – the band jammed until they existed.
Earlier, the band released the Suzanne Vega-esque confessional single ‘Apology Song’, upbeat introspective lead track ‘That Someone’ and the laid-back and philosophical ‘Your Time Doesn’t Exist’.
A new chapter in the Montclair, NJ band’s evolution, the new album is vibrant, raw-edged and bold, showcasing a new guitar-rich lineup. Released via the newly-launched Magic Door Record Label, founded by Guided by Voices drummer Kevin March with Ketchem and LoBue with a simple mission to release music created by the rich community of artists who surround them, this album reveals the band’s North Jersey roots and lineage with The Feelies, Yo La Tengo (with whom they share a former label, Bar/None) and Luna (with whom they share a guitarist).
‘Above the Water’ was recorded, mixed and mastered at Ketchem’s Magic Door Recording, opened in 2017 as an acoustically lush refuge for musical expression and experimentation. Ketchem, whose production credits include Guided By Voices, Luna and Gramercy Arms, partnered with legendary studio designer George Augspurger to transform a cavernous warehouse into a freeform studio where vintage microphones, modern studio gear, and bespoke sound tuning elevate and inspire.
The ‘Above The Water’ LP is out now, available across fine digital outlets, including Apple Music, Tidal, Qobuz and Spotify, as well as Bandcamp. On March 4, K8 (from Creek and Kills) presents an evening of female-fronted bands, including Elk City, Girls on Grass and Creek and Kills at the intimate Windjammer in Ridgewood, Queens (552 Grandview Ave, Queens, NY).