Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
If we were to make some hunches about what El Ten Eleven was going to sound like, based on various non-sound-related pieces of evidence, the conclusions would work out into a disastrous bag of inconclusiveness. There is the photograph and velvet red sky color on the cover of the group's self-titled debut album - out six years ago in 2004, but just pressed onto vinyl and reintroduced into the world this year - that distinctly reminds us of the cover of a Heatmiser album. There is a song on the band's latest album, "These Promises Are Being Videotaped," entitled, "I Like Van Halen Because My Sister Says They Are Cool." And nextly, though not lastly, we have the two men behind the sounds to give the once over and think we can tell who they are, what they'll be like, what the won't be like and how much they're going to affect our potential hearing loss just from that one discriminating look. Guitarist Kristian Dunn likes to use his 1977 Carvin guitar/bass doubleneck and that's Cheap Trick territory. That's when you tend to expect the weirdness, the eccentricities to show themselves off. It's when you're expecting solos that reach long into the night and showy stuff that you rarely, if ever want to take home with you. The Los Angeles-based duo has recently been quoted as saying that they have to temper themselves sometimes, to break from what they think they need to do technically in order to make the song the best possible song. They've felt, in the past, that they've let their chops get in the way of the natural needs of songs. They always want things to get complicated, to utilize all kinds of loop pedals to build a scene - a scenic scene - when it might just take a few concise lines to awe and subsequently do the piece of music, the song, the greatest justice. What El Ten Eleven does - as just two people -- is a thing of beauty and something that usually takes the hands of many more. It crafts together a sound that reminds a bit of the old Pele albums, drawn into these glittery rides along the coast, on motorcycle. It's as if, through this music that we're able to view landscapes that we've only read about: a drive along the golden coast brings the sea salt to our lips (through our ears), a long haul across the Heartland brings the fragrant smell of cow manure to a nose. You seem to get all of that in this music that's like a balloon ride, nay, not a ride, just a good spot to watch a hot air balloon race, a slow and colorful piss across a sharp oceanic sky. It's music that seems to always have a place to be and it gets there, though never in a hurry, just in due time, pacing itself, taking the curves nice and easy and then stepping on the gas a bit when everything straightens out. It's music that calls one forth, like a snapping and warm fire on a frosty night. It's high adventure and it's a comfortable recliner all at the same time.