Friday, October 30, 2009
Album of the Week, 10/30/09--"Family" by Le Loup
Two wonderful things happened to me this past week: I fell in love with a three-speed cruiser at KLUNK's bike shop, and I discovered Le Loup. Now I have both a new bike and a new favorite band. Bike love and band love. It's been a good week. Let's celebrate it with the Album of the Week.
First of all, don't be fooled by the image of bearded indie minimalists sitting fireside: Le Loup wanders far outside folk's ring of fire, expanding its borders to incorporate African rhythms, Renaissance counterpoint, middle-eastern drone, and Appalachian banjo.
Keyboard/banjo player Sam Simkoff formed Le Loup in 2006 in Washington, D.C. He soon recruited other members, including computer geek extraordinaire Christian Ervin, drummer Robby Sahm, guitarists Michael Ferguson and Jim Thomson, and bassist Dan Ryan. The band's debut album, The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations' Millennium General Assembly (2007) earned them comparisons to Arcade Fire, Animal Collective, and Yeasayer.
For their latest, friendlier-titled release, Family (September 22), Le Loup favors real instruments over the computers that dominated their first album. They pulled a Justin Vernon and retreated to a North Carolina cabin and Sahm's basement to record without mundane distractions and tap the primal energy underlying their live shows—first capturing the organic sounds of their instruments before treating them with various effects. The result is a swirling cacophony of building textures, group vocals, and world beats, spirited along by Simkoff's plucky banjo.
See what you think. "Sherpa" is slow to start but soon takes off up the mountain. Have patience.
(I'm partial to "Grow" myself.)
At first I thought, Oh, great, another mushy, multi-vocaled band. But somehow Le Loup manages to transcend the aimless wandering of other neo-folk groups. Each track on Family is nothing short of majestic: rippling, expanding, and transforming, the songs mutate from campfire sing-along to fiery bacchanalia. I didn't expect to like this album as much as I do, but Le Loup howled at my back door, and I let them in. Sometimes bands, like banana-yellow bicycles, choose us.
And finally, check out our very own Columbia Missouri Cycling Cooperative (COMO Cyco) for full details on Saturday's MidMO BRR. I'll be heading to Rocheport by Schwinn myself in a gloriously half-assed costume. A spooktacular Halloween to all souls...