INCHES007: New Wax from EELS, Widow Babies, Night Horse, Eternal Tapestry (+ MP3s, video)
In the unpredictable wake of music's digital rebirth, vinyl has experienced a modest boom in popularity, seen by many (with delicious irony) as a replacement for the awkward middleman that is the compact disc. INCHES seeks not only to review the output of L.A.'s healthy vinyl community (artists and labels, indie or otherwise), but to pay dap to those who continue to tend the flame, believing that good music deserves much more than a handful of ones and zeros.
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Artist: The Widow Babies
Label: olFactory Records (Downtown)
Title: Jet Packs
Format: LP (+ download card), clear vinyl, screen-printed B-side, 500 pressed
These local youngsters may worship at the throne of The Minutemen (their concept-heavy debut EP features song titles like "Mike Watt Created The Universe With A Bass Solo"), but it might be easier to imagine The Widow Babies as Abe Vigoda fronted by the helium-voiced Daniel Smith, or Les Savvy Fav with Marnie Stern at the helm. Music and lyrics both are bright and sharp - involving playful storytelling over quick-paced African-tinged surf punk - allowing the band's first full-length, Jet Pack, to move lithely through its 12 songs (the thirteenth track is an über-cute "thank you" to various folks in the scene, including The Smell/olFactory Records head Jim Smith). Yet promising as this album is, nothing beats the record itself - a clear plate whose blank B-side is screen-printed with a large tribal rattlesnake chasing a female Zulu warrior (who sorta runs, flip-book-style, while the vinyl is spinning).
Over the past two years, Mark Oliver Everett - known to friends and enemies alike as E (and occasionally, MC Honky) - has seemed in a rush to document his existence to this point. First there was his memoir, Things The Grandchildren Should Know, then Geffen gave the EELS songbook the "best of" treatment, coupling Meet The EELS with a DVD full of videos and even offering a 50-track B-sides set. Perhaps then, EELS's recently released Hombre Lobo LP represents a reset. E's recent solo set for MySpace pulls largely from that album, and dwells in a well-aged, bluesy piano-man kind of vibe, making for a Sunday afternoon set of easy downer music. "Tremendous Dynamite" is the lone barnburner nestled among melancholy acoustic numbers, a warm reprise of 1996's "My Beloved Monster," and a scruff-voiced cover of Bob Dylan's "Girl From North County." The vinyl features an exclusive version of Lobo's "The Longing."
EELS - The MySpace Transmissions (zip of entire session)
Purchase now via the EELS web store.