May 22, 2008

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Everest, Ghost Notes
Vapor Records, May 6
Easy-listening-indie born of pragmatic necessity from a handful of Los Angeles scene-vets who’ve survived such medium-name bands as Sebadoh, The Folk Implosion and Earlimart. We’re talking SXSW-is-Woodstock mindset, a record that took a grand total of three weeks to record and master, but the sound is surprisingly rich, reaching for Ryan Adams-level bigness and oftentimes getting a pinkie-hold on it. This lot have no time for lovey-dovey or fooling around — the songwriting combines Adams with latter-day Wilco, and perhaps if they’d suppressed the urge to parlay their bar-packing local fame into some fast record sales they’d have knocked out a “Two” or two. The band’s honest, clear-headed effort does result in the location of bona-fide harmonic elephants, but they seem reluctant to surround and capture them alive, as in the fadeout to “Rebels in the Roses,” where the foggiest Dave Matthews idea, perhaps just one switched-out chord, would have opened the door to a slam-dunk radio hit. Of course, if, however, the idea was to recruit a cadre of misfit wonks to disappoint with commercialism yet to come, they’ve succeeded brilliantly. This could be a big one, fair warning. BEric W. Saeger