*** The following is a lovely review of Elephant Stone’s ‘The Seven Seas’, which you can buy on Indiecater over here ***
When I spotted Elephant Stone’s “The Seven Seas” album, I had to listen to it. Being from Manchester and having participated avidly in the late-80s “Madchester” scene, I was pleased to see a band named after a Stone Roses song. The Roses themselves would also be happy, I suspect, once they throw this gem on the CD player and are taken away by its spangling guitars and vocals. The best bit for me was that, though there’s a thick vein of janglepop running throughout, each song a neat little time segment, there are deeper, drawn out experiments constantly taking place. The overall feel is of an airy sunroof open to a fabulous sky, from which breezes of many kinds caress the frazzled nerves and make it all right again. The tracks, “Bombs Bombs Away” and “How Long”, have a child-dressing-the-Christmas-tree edge that shoots janglestrings back through time. The vocal is short and sweet with a hint of aftertaste and a certain amount of effervescence. Indeed, this band captures a cosmic fizz and bottles it in powerful little song packages that are easily consumed by the deep and the shallow alike. Very apt, given the name of the album. The merging of traditional Indian instruments, guitars and electronic sounds is always done with a sparing hand and a blurred edge, building a sense that one is slowly being seduced into a submarine world where all is distorted for the better.
Too many of today’s pop stars are standing on the shoulders of giants. You may think that Noel and Liam Gallagher’s latest individual incarnations represent the continuance of something sacred, or at least an attempt at it, but next to Elephant Stone it sounds like The Monkees found God and started taking themselves too seriously. Don’t get me wrong; I like Beady Eye, but one can only give that kind of repetitive pop so many marks out of ten. Go to a Foo Fighters concert and listen to the versatility of Dave Grohl, then listen to The Seven Seas. It’s in a class of its own. “I am Blind” begins with shades of My Morning Jacket but that’s a short-lived impression that melts and melds to a higher type voice – the voice of Elephant Stone. “The Seven Seas” sounds like George Harrison reincarnated with a more rounded vocal, a fruitiness that stirs subtle echoes of seasonal change and uncertainty. “The Straight Line” goes right into full-on Indian twang via a patient sitar that is totally unpretentious and even mystical. Oh Heartbreaker, by contrast, begins with a strong drudge guitar and those same light vocals that provide a beautiful contrast. I know; you think I’m being unkind to the better-known rock stars by saying stuff like “A live Smashing Pumpkins concert isn’t as good as listening to Elephant Stone on an old tinny transistor”, but there’s a method to my madness.
“A Morning Song” actually hums with power and being – corny, I know, but jeez, this tune has it all; that same psychedelic Christmassy vibe mixed with a George Harrison-with-richer-voice vocals, and the sitar that rises in and out of the overall sound like Krishna’s sharkfin. It’s too good. It is.”Don’t You Know” once again proves this outfit’s mastery of merging, as they hit you with a squelching distorted keyboard a guitar tinkling sweetly around the driving tune like they were made for each other. How many bands pack this kind of punch? Not many, that’s how many. There’s a big sound here that is enveloped by the remainder, just as each fragment of the remainder is enveloped by the rest and melds to the inside of your skull like a kind of friendly smoke that come in your ears before webbing out and condensing into shimmering mauve mind-dew upon your delighted brain. OK, I made that last bit up, but believe me when I say that this is excellent music. Elephant Stone’s “The Seven Seas” – recommended for popsters and serious dudes both. Check it out now.
Written by Ian Hough.