Blending rock, folk, soul and jazz, NYC outfit Elk City have garnered something of a cult following that started back in the early 1990s and hasn’t used its safe word yet. From humble, noisy beginnings to a sonically rich sound that is full of depth and detail, Elk City’s soundscapes encompass galaxies while retaining intimate and introspective thoughts and feelings, like epic adventures under the skin. The group’s fifth album, Everybody’s Insecure, is being released by Bar/None Records on March 16.
Collaboration is at the core of every great band, and Elk City’s lead vocalist Renée LoBue and drummer/producer Ray Ketchem are two people ready to strap themselves into wet suits, climb into the immersion tank and get the job done. This pair is ably abetted by guitarist Sean Eden, who is currently splitting time with the re-invigorated Luna, extraordinary keyboardist Carl Baggaley and the propulsive counter melodies of bassist Martin Olson. The band has also just added a new guitarist, Chris Robertson.
Throughout the album’s recording, Ketchem was building his new studio, Magic Door, a gorgeous, good-vibes HQ for musical expression and experimentation in the center of Montclair, NJ’s arts community. Far from the humble beginnings of his first clammy basement studio, Ray has become a sought-after producer/engineer, working with Guided By Voices, Luna, Versus, Chris Mills, Brother JT, and Glenn Morrow’s Cry For Help.
Each track on Everybody’s Insecure would begin with LoBue presenting her songs using late-night voice recordings she’d sung in a ghostly, whispered warble. The band would listen intently, then come up with instrumentation ideas, chord structures and tempos while Ray kept the recorders rolling – driven by his goal of capturing the creative spark at its most luminous. Every track on Everybody’s Insecure is actually built upon those very first impressions. Session after session, Ray went to work using an arsenal of studio wizardry, mining and combining, stretching and condensing, manipulating and re-amplifying sounds, building sub mixes and adding new instruments until the final mastered version is a spit-shined sonic delight, ripe for the memory box.
Today Glide is premiering the song “25 Lines”, which kicks off with a thick bass line and the tapping of a cymbal. LoBue’s vocals are angelic with a natural pop inflection. Indeed, the tune is an infectious piece of power pop with a bridge verse that brings to mind David Bowie. In another era aka the 90s, “25 Lines” would be a radio hit and be blasting in dorm rooms throughout the country. Mostly though, it captures a band that has put in enough time together to understand the nuances of crafting a fine song, and Elk City are most certainly talented when it comes to that.
Reflecting on the inspiration behind the song,Renee LoBue has this to say:
The lyrics to “25 Lines” were assembled from an exercise I created for myself during a period of writer’s block.
The exercise was: Write 25 lines of anything that came to mind every day. If I was inspired to write more, great. If not, at least I knew I pumped a little creative iron for the day. Once I had a notebook of unrelated “lines”, I began piecing them together and found a melody. I wanted the song to have a similar feel to Prince’s, “Manic Monday”, as recorded by The Bangles. Notably, “25 Lines” was the first song written for Everybody’s Insecure.
Elk City release Everybody’s Insecure on March 16. For more info visit elkcityband.com.