You take side streets home from the sketchiest gas station in your area code with a pack of Zig-Zags crumpled in your fist. A red neon light falls on the back of your denim jacket as you walk. Your plastic earbuds vibrate in harmony with the strange loops of a droning chorus: “Always real, always right/Always alright.”
So rattles the track “Pepsi/Coke Suicide” by Elvis Depressedly, the delightfully dismal moniker of frontman Mathew Lee Cothran and multi-instrumentalist Delaney Mills.
Roughly six years since Elvis Depressedly got its start in Asheville, North Carolina, Pitchfork and The Guardian have tied the band to experimental outfits like TV Girl and The Brian Jonestown Massacre, staking their reputations in the subtle species of the indie rock genre that incorporates lo-fi recording techniques.
Regardless of whether that’s true or not, there’s no question that Elvis Depressedly evokes a serenity that washes over you like a Valium-induced trance. Following last year’s shimmering New Alhambra
– the closest thing the group has to a traditionally produced album – June’s Holo Pleasures/California Dreamin’
compilation returns to Cothran and Mills’ penchant for droning acoustics and pulsating rhythms. Not unlike the breakout album DSU by noise rock darling and former touring companion Alex G, Elvis Depressedly’s latest release falls into the indie rock tradition of harkening back to the iconoclastic singer-songwriters of the late 1960’s.
In the reverb-drenched “Weird Honey,” Cothran coos the song’s hook against a backdrop of jittery shuffle grooves like a nihilist mumbling sweet nothings – “If there’s a cold spot in Hell, I hope you get it” – in a quasi-deliberate nod to Wild Honey
by the Beach Boys, one of the highly influential “Bedroom Tapes” produced by Brian Wilson in his makeshift home studio in Los Angeles, California.
“We’re trying to make more love songs,” said Cothran in an interview with the San Antonio Current
. “Not just about romantic love, but also platonic love … I think the Beach Boys did that well. They wrote songs about love that were positive and encouraging.”
Dappled with small gestures toward the past, Elvis Depressedly’s hazy portrayal of summertime love opens up an enigmatic dialogue that transverses coastlines and spans decades with the Beach Boys’ mesmerizing precursor to the lo-fi genre. While Cothran’s playfully twisted lyricism probes the austerity of summer lovin’ – the darkness of youth culture that we prefer to sweep under the sugary veil of heartthrobs singing surf songs – it captures the allure of the California myth, the idyllic teen narrative that begot sunshine pop, without losing its footing in reality’s doldrums.
“The title track of California Dreamin’
is for my best friend from this last decade,” Cothran explained. “I mostly listen to older music. But nostalgia can be a trap. You can get caught up, not realizing how good art made today is.”
Elvis Depressedly’s first show at Paper Tiger is slated for Friday, August 12, with Teen Suicide and Nicole Dollanganger. Tickets are available online for $12.
Accompanied by a music video for closing track “Up In The Air,” Elvis Depressedly’s compilation album combines 2013’s Holo Pleasures
with a previously unreleased EP, California Dreamin’
. Vinyl records and cassette tapes are out now via Run For Cover
Elvis Depressedly, Teen Suicide, Nicole Dollanganger
7pm Fri, Aug 12
2410 St. Mary’s St.