Elba, An Avalanche

Elba, An Avalanche

Seattle indie-rock trio Elba’s An Avalanche is a promising CD of eleven songs full of quick, bright-sounding guitars that carry on in a poppy way, along with the occasional more laidback number. The vocals are nice and complimentary to the music, and the songs are played in a major key. It may be the fact that they all share a hate for The Eagles or simply that they know what they’re doing, but either way, the band has made some rockin’ tunes for your ears.

The band consists of Shea Teeley, Nick Cappelletti, Brian Graham, and Matt Hartgraves. They are fond of short titles and the kind of unusual backing vocals that switch off between high female and deep male harmonies, although never at the same time. This really stands out when you listen to the album with headphones. Shea has a sweet, light voice, while the male backup singer’s voice is slightly raspy and low, and the lead’s is on the higher side, but never nasally or shrill, reminiscent of Jim Adkins from Jimmy Eat World.

Their lyrics are often about finding your way in times of change and proving yourself to others; you could say they are highly critical of themselves and feel the need to make it known through their music. Every so often, an outside instrument will come in, like a synthesizer or cello, and that adds a nice touch. The songs are on the shorter side, but it’s okay, because they have a fast pace, which makes the ending come at an appropriate time. They claim Pavement, Built to Spill, and The Replacements as influences, but Elba veers a bit more towards a mellow sound than they do the indie scene of the 1990s.

Opening track “You Murder Me” sounds somewhat muddled, with several instruments running over each other and singing verging on talking, but the chaos carries on in a good way, especially because of an outsider sneaking in a trombone. Track two, “Wide Awake,” has a Death Cab for Cutie feel, with a major key piano and guitar part complimenting each other under the words, “You fall apart when you fake it / It doesn’t matter what you’re about / You’re only worth what’s in your mouth.”

Track six, “Waltz,” is a neat number, with that turning feeling in the music typical of all waltzes due to the three-quarter time, and even the words “too little too late” imitate that repetitive nature. Think Elliott Smith’s waltzes — which this may even be an homage to, since they also list him as an influence. Track nine, “Capable Hands,” reminds me of Modest Mouse a bit, due to the odd rhythm of the vocals and ironic words: “Lord it’s well known / We’ll die well before we get old / before we have the chance to save our souls.”

They went on their last West Coast tour in January, but expect more in the future, as they’ve now released another album, Don’t Be Discouraged, Little Sparrow.


Review by . Review posted Tuesday, August 24th, 2010. Filed under Reviews.

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