Ten years ago, Athens, Georgia was to indie rock what Montreal is now. Or was, five minutes ago. In Montreal over yet? Digression aside, Elf Power was one of the second wave Elephant 6 bands that got some attention in the wake of the success of Neutral Milk Hotel, Olivia Tremor Control, and Apples in Stereo. Their album “The Winter Is Coming” is a masterpiece of low-fi psychedelica, which I played on near-endless repeat during the fall of 2000 after dropping out of graduate school. Maybe that’s why lyrics like, “The winter is coming/and you have no time to waste” held such meaning.
Several months later, I was in Athens, GA, and after Elf Power played at the 40 Watt Club, I approached Andrew Rieger, the lead singer to ask him if the song “Embrace The Crimson Tide” was a celebration of menstrual sex, but didn’t have the guts… I got as far as saying, “Is ‘Embrace the Crimson Tide’ about… y’know…” and he said, “The football team? A lot of people ask me that…” Oh well.
After “The Winter Is Coming,” Elf Power fell off my radar for a while, until Scott put their forthcoming album “Back to the Web” in my hands. I wasn’t sure what to expect from Elf Power after so long, but I was pleasantly surprised. Their sound is much smoother than it was six years ago, but it sounds less like they’ve gone soft and more like they are aging gracefully. I really like the song “King of Earth” for its classic Elf Power LOTR-geek lyrics and because it was during this song that I was thinking, “Aw, man, no more woodwinds?” about two seconds before the saxophone kicked in.
Elf Power – “King of Earth” (MP3 Link Expired)
Check out the band’s MySpace page for four more streaming tracks off the new album. If I ever bump into Andrew again, I will ask him if “Back the Web” is about having to resort to internet porn again after a breakup.