Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
This is a demented parade full of funhouse characters, with exaggerated smiles and facial makeup, bloated cheeriness and dark, dark linings. Elfin Saddle is a procession of freaks and shamen, answering some sort of open call, or following some instinctual print, like cartoon dogs involuntarily rising from sleep, then off the ground following the scent of bacon or hamburgers on the grill. Singers Emi Honda, Jordan McKenzie and tuba player Nathan Gage create a shambling, ragged batch of gypsy music - with the sounds of running water, empty shells clacking against one another and creaking furniture - that seems as if its one purpose is to deny itself any one direction or mission. The music meanders and wobbles, chops along at whichever pace comes out of it this minute, knowing full well that in two seconds it's going to get weird and no one will be able to forecast what's in store. Honda, a former roommate of Wolf Parade/Sunset Rubdown/Swan Lake mastermind Spencer Krug, mixes vocals with McKenzie in a way that could be compared to if Alan Sparhawk of Low and Retribution Gospel Choir and Deerhoof's Satomi Matsuzaki ever joined forces for some dueting. They combine such odd feelings together - a kooky, craziness with a harrowing underbelly of something lurching below the covers, though there are many recurring messages running throughout the band's debut full-length, "Ringing For The Begin Again," about affirmation and inner strength, somewhat contradicting any perceived cloudy rumblings. The music carries such eerie undertones that there's no shaking off the chills that are introduced, even with McKenzie singing unscary lines like, "I am weak and starry eyed, starry eyes, 'till a ray of sun shines/I'm a weary water kind, starry eyes, 'till a ray of sun shines/I have wandered waking night, 'till the day pulled up its lights," painting a lonely sunrise out on a Death Valley horizon. They are pacifist war cries, whoops to the sun gods and another other gods that might listen and lend a helping hand. They take on some of the personality traits of Sun City Girls songs - as if these were discussions of the cosmic chatter happening between three relatively like-minded ham radio nuts, bouncing these vibrations off one another in the thickets of a night. We're just out here riding bareback on the howls of the devils wolves, eavesdropping our faces off.
Elfin Saddle Official Site