November 17, 2008

El Ten Eleven is el bomb

This weekend I had my face melted (a few times actually) down at the Larimer Lounge — most completely by the duo El Ten Eleven, who were opening for Land of Talk on Saturday night. Kristian Dunn and Tim Fogarty make mindblowing sounds using just a drum set and fretless bass/double-necked guitar.

With the help of about 27 different pedal and whirlygig deals on the floor, they loop layers of sound to create some amazing(ly fun) music. From the initial stirrings of even something like Pachelbel’s “Canon in D,” I’ve always found the slow build and denouement in any song to be fascinating, especially ones that focus on adding the layers of sound or noise and then taking them back. My brain likes appreciating each element distinctly.

The vague confusion that I felt when I first walked in on their set (“Wait — I am hearing sounds that are not currently being played by those hands I see in front of me…”) slowly melted into a hot flush of wonder. I’m a sucker for cool loops. Watching Kristian lay down one bit of melody and then another, effortlessly weaving in and out of different sounds with a flick of a finger across the strings — it was sort of like watching a magician at work, albeit in sneakers and a striped t-shirt. Together with Tim the relentless drummer, he constructed something that was awesomely danceable but intelligently (and joyfully) composed.

WATCH: “Hot Cakes” (live in Arizona)

El Ten Eleven hails from the Silverlake neighborhood of Los Angeles (although 1/2 of the duo went to a neighboring high school from mine in the San Fran Bay Area). Their music is, hmmm . . . danceable like Justice, with pulsing basslines like Primus, and radiating sonic atmosphere like Sigur Ros. Their music darts in and out of ethereal and rocking, sublime and visceral.

These Promises Are Being Videotaped is their third album, self-released after a stint with Bar/None Records. I can’t get enough of this first song, and check that Radiohead cover! The crowd packed around the stage provided the “sing-as-loud-as-you-can” vocals to their instrumental rendition.

Jumping Frenchmen of Maine – El Ten Eleven
Paranoid Android (Radiohead cover) – El Ten Eleven

And while you’re over on their website, you can check out the sweet “Slasher Tee” I bought at the show and love because it makes me look like an Eighties guitar hero. Which is something I shall ne’er be.

Nov 17 – Record Bar, Kansas City, MO
Nov 18 – Mojo’s, Columbia, MO
Nov 19 – Canopy Club, Urbana, IL
Nov 20 – Founders Brewing, Grand Rapids, MI
Nov 21 – Beachland Tavern, Cleveland, OH
Nov 22 – Casa Cantina, Athens, OH
Nov 23 – Bug Jar, Rochester, NY
Nov 25 – Cafe 9, New Haven, CT
Nov 26 – The Bell House, Brooklyn, NY
Nov 28 – 92Y Tribeca, New York, NY
Nov 29 – Brillobox, Pittsburgh, PA
Dec 1 – 816 Pint and Slice, Fort Wayne, IN
Dec 2 – Schubas, Chicago, IL
Dec 3 – TBA St. Louis, MO
Dec 4 – Opolis, Norman, OK
Dec 5 – The Cavern, Dallas, TX
Dec 6 – Beauty Bar, Austin, TX
Dec 10 – Hotel Cafe, Hollywood, CA
Dec 19 – Hotel Monte Vista, Flagstaff, AZ
Dec 20 – Plush, Tucson, AZ

[pics from the glorious Laurie Scavo, natch]

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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