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  Everyone Down Here  
  Palm Pictures  
Release Date:
Reviewed by:

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 any noodling.

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.

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Here are some of our lacklustre reviews of pre-lineup change Earlimart:
    Opening for The Radar Brothers in L.A. in August 2002.
    Opening for The Polyphonic Spree in L.A. in October 2002.
    Opening for Shipping News in Atlanta in January 2003.


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