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Paul Nair Headshot

In Praise Of: Electrelane

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From time to time I'll feel the need to shout forth from the virtual rooftops regarding a particular musical or literary interest of mine. These appeals are usually rooted in my desire for more exposure afforded to a particular artist, and they usually fall on deaf ears. (For the record, it helps to hype up your favorite band or writer before drinking 12-17 cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon.)

Despite the apathy I've witnessed in the past, however, I feel compelled to once again ascend the fire escape of the Huffington Post with a megaphone and issue forth a declaration: Brighton, England-based band Electrelane may just be one of the best British groups currently playing music.

I'll be brutally honest: there's a lot of crap coming from the U.K. these days. It ranges from the embarrassingly gimmicky (The Pipettes, Lady Sovereign) to the achingly mediocre (The Arctic Monkeys' latest) to the unbearably over-hyped (Amy Winehouse, lest I speak of the pseudo-soul devil). For every Bloc Party or Lily Allen, it seems the British hype machine is more than happy to set afloat a half dozen aspirants across the Atlantic. It's that time-tested method of throwing loads of rubbish at the wall and seeing what sticks.

Which is all the more frustrating when a band like Electrelane (quick background: four women, keyboard/bass/drums/guitar, tight and wonderfully personal production and songwriting) spend the last three years quietly building up a stateside following, evolving their sound and generally finding their niche in the universe of contemporary independent music. If I had my magic wand, they'd be on Austin City Limits, gracing NPR, hell, appearing on film soundtracks -- let's go all out -- playing in the background of the latest MLB '07 video game for Playstation 3.

What's so great about this band, then? It's a rich mosaic of talent: It's the early records (think Dick Dale raised on the Brighton shore with a kid sister fond of the dusty Hammond organ in the basement); it's the subtle slide from instrumental frenzies of guitar and snare to a more mature and relaxed piano-assisted sound in later records like 2005's Axes; it's the lamenting-yet- hopeful lilt of three-part harmony amidst a garden of decidedly English keys and chords, an almost timeless style at home in 2007 or even 70 years ago during the blitz; it's the refreshing normalcy of the group itself -- no gimmicks. The most endearing aspect of Electrelane is that they're a natural formation of four people playing a unique blend of music, not a Major Label creation or a quickly formed conspirator to join the genre of the week.

So do yourself a favor and visit their website, where most of their records are available for streaming. If you like what you hear, the group is currently touring the U.S. in support of their newest album, No Shouts No Calls. A few dates have been played with The Arcade Fire, which should certainly assist in increasing their profile. Perhaps there is hope yet.

I feel much better having gotten the word out. And I managed to keep the PBR in the fridge. Well, most of it.