Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound Engineering by Patrick Stolley and Brad Kopplin
Bathed in the right kind of light, anyone or anything has an attractive side. There are those billions of drunken escapades that all began on this premise, when that hunk or that babe discovered in a darkened club or bar had their many rougher edges expertly disguised by the amber barley shades and smoky hues. The morning afters come as shocks. Coincidentally, this is the basis for a certain new movie entitled "Knocked Up."
This potent light is inconsequential when it comes to Brooklyn's The Ladybug Transistor, one of the leaders of the Elephant 6 movement back in the late 90s, which immersed itself in ponderous harmonies and in taking a new stab at songwriting for the bookworm-ish - referring mostly to those who weren't into Bush and Live and took their indie rock nerdishly serious. They don't need the cosmetic help to cook themselves into an appetizing dish, but lead singer Gary Olson and posse do cake on the dry Western air and the warm Californian sun rays to create a dashing blend of casual living and its problematic wanderlust.
Olson sings with the elocution of a gentle, commonplace breadwinner, but with twinges of articulation that should come from one who gallops with the foxes and the hounds. There's confidence in his voice that comes with a stroke of vulnerability, believe it or not. There's a traveler in his voice, someone who doesn't care where he was last or where he'll wind up. He roams on the songs contained on the band's six ace albums, working without a map but with a sharp ear that can identify when the hangdog shadows are perfectly aligned with the romance of a late afternoon, when happy hour meets the main course. Right in there is where he takes his cues, basking in a dampened, but optimistic smile.
The band's latest record, Can't Wait Another Day, was recorded at Marlborough Farms, where Olson has lived for 10 years in an area of New York known as Victorian Flatbush, where 100-year-old homes and trees are the rule, not the exception. He suggests that there's a darker spirit to the record than the previous disc, the location-dropping self-titled disc of 2003, and he's right. An arbitrary assortment of items and potpourri that recalls the record would include: empty churches, empty gymnasiums that make your footsteps sound like cannons firing, long lines, waiting games, nervous energy, sleeping fawns, fuzziness, road trips, windows down, cowboy boots, grass growing, long talks on the phone with a person you're just getting to know and hammocks. It's for rainy days and sunny days alike, or perhaps one of those weird spring days where the showers have the offs and ons of a sky reluctant to commit. One fat cloud rolls through, pouts some, there's a break with some false orange hope and then the sly buildup to the next tumbler and drops. This is a summation.