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Shmat's Reviews
For more reviews, please visit Palebear which is where all future Shmat reviews will appear (as of March 2006).

Everyone Down Here (CD)

I first saw this CD nestled in the somewhat questionable listening aisle of the local Tower Records and though my interest was piqued by the sort of funky name (I thought "earlimart" was some sort of code name for a 24 hour supermarket, while it actually is the name of a community in the Central Valley of California) I barely listened to the first song before leaving. Later, I happened to catch part of their appearance on KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic where they put on an engaging performance complete with mid-Californian crows twittering away in the background. And this time I really dug the songs they played. So, when I finally got a chance to sit down with the actual album I felt like I knew this band already. I guess it just goes to show that blanket indie media campaigns can really work.

Not that any such campaigns are necessary to justify this album. From the Heatmiser-like opener "We're So Happy (We Left The Piano In The Truck)" to the twinkling starlight corners of "Night, Nite", this album easily wormed its way into my consciousness. Recording at his own "The Ship" studios in Eagle Rock, CA, Aaron Espinoza and his mates have created a rollicking vessel that travels well on the stormy seas, but also provides a deck to host late night pirate parties while docked at the harbor. Ah... another lovely, well-intentioned metaphor down the drain.

Earlimart will definitely garner comparisons to their household - appliance - meets - forest - clearing neighbors Granddaddy (and indeed, Jason Lytle helped out on the production for this album) but the gulf between man and machine is often even more pronounced here, if you can possibly imagine that. Where Granddaddy is often content to let the scenery drift gradually between back porch noodling and edgy space interludes, Earlimart will sometimes completely let go of the throttle. On songs like "Lost At Sea", what starts off like an Idaho ballad suddenly explodes into a firestorm that sounded a bit like the Glaswegian band Urusei Yatsura. When this type of thing happens, rather than throwing the album off-kilter it serves to heighten the sense of excitement about what the next song may bring. This can be really edgy stuff. I really hate to reduce it in this manner, but it's almost like the fighting diametric opposites of Lou Barlow's tender acoustic songs versus Jason Lowenstein's screamers on some of the early Sebadoh albums.

This is a beautifully constructed selection of varied indie songs, but if you get musically seasick this album may not be for you. As a side note, extra bonus techie points for including cool videos for "We Drink On The Job", "Burning The Cow" and "Lost At Sea" as well as mp3s of all of the tracks on this extended CD.

- review by BY (6.8.03)        

Palm Pictures
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NY, NY 10001

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