Back in early August, when I was preparing
to set out on a vacation to sunny Los Angeles, I did what many
people do at such times: I bought magazines for the flight.
Somewhere over the Western desert, I came across an article
on the California group Earlimart. As I was reading the article,
the primary songwriter’s name kept jumping out at me. Somehow
I knew that name. When I got to the end of the article, I realized
how: Aaron Espinoza, singer/songwriter for Earlimart, co-produced
the latest Grandaddy LP, Sumday. Ah-HA!
Being the Grandaddy fan that I am, I needed no more incentive
to buy the Earlimart record. So, the day after we got to L.A.,
I headed to my own private Mecca, Amoeba Records on Sunset.
Along with many other records, I made sure to grab the Earlimart
LP Everyone Down Here. When I got back to my rental
car and popped in the disc, I could hardly believe how good
(and so far underrated) this disc is!
Having already fallen in love with this disc before I joined
the EvilSponge crew, I was surprised to read the lackluster
reviews of the band from Gooner and PostLibyan. “How could they
not love this band?” I asked myself. Then, when I finally got
sick of listening to Everyone Down Here, I began
the online search for information regarding any previous releases
the band had. I was surprised lo learn that they had put out
two EPs, a 7” record, and also two full-length LPs. Being the
huge dork that I am, I made sure to order all that I could find:
The Avenues EP (2003), Kingdom of Champions
LP (2000), and Filthy DoorwaysLP (1999). I even
accidentally ordered two of the last one. Upon receiving these
records, it is suddenly easy to see why my fellow Minions would
have been less than impressed. In short, The Avenues
is great but the two LPs are sub-par at best. Apparently, in
the intervening time, there have been some personnel changes
in the band. So I can only assume one of two things: either
the parting of these former band members hastened the change
in the band’s sound, or the change in the band’s sound hastened
the parting of the former band members. Either way it was definitely
a change for the better.
The opening track of Everyone Down Here is the
fantastic We’re So Happy. It begins with a prodding,
three-chord, slow groove overlaid with some cool monotone vocal
harmonies. This track is truly an exercise in understated, minimalist
emotion. The repeating of the phrase “We’re so happy” in this
midst of this drone is a great contradiction in and of itself.
I would say that this was a very effective way to open the record.
The next track We Drink on The Job is the closest thing
to a single on the CD. It picks up the pace compared to the
first track, and contains some infectiously catchy melodies.
This song will get stuck in your head. The bass anchors
the song, but the low-key piano melody and Dinosaur Jr-ish guitar
really enhance the experience.
With majority of the CD falling into the pattern of slow-song-then-fast-song,
it creates an emotional roller-coaster that does seem to fit
quite well. Other standout tracks are the downbeat and beautiful
The Movies and Night, Nite as well as the very
catchy, upbeat track Burning the Cow
The band’s musical approach on this disc is not terribly innovative.
They use the typical guitar-bass-drums-vocals configuration,
with bits of other things sprinkled in here and there. What
makes this record great is not the instrumentation, but rather
the amazing songwriting itself. Nearly all the songs sound as
though they were very well thought out, and any possible filler
was removed. No one seems to be showing off on this record,
which makes for a listening experience completely devoid of
Had I heard Earlimart’s earlier work before this album, I would
most likely have been unimpressed. Like the more recent Grandaddy
records, this record really shows a band on the cusp of its
potential. From here on they will have to be a truly great band
in order to live up to Everyone Down Here.