STEREO EMBERS EXCLUSIVE PREVIEW – Debut album “Colors” from Galveston wunderkinds El Lago (with track-by-track synopsis)

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Photo Credits: Crashing Through Publicity

As the press release more or less avers, Texan Gulf Coast resort town Galveston’s not a place you might make any immediate musical connections with beyond a long-ago chart hit by Wrecking Crew guitarist-turned-TV pop star Glen Campbell. But of course any city of even a modest size – Galveston’s population is just a nudge over 50k – is going to have a ‘scene’ of some sort and however active that scene may or may not be at the moment, it’s at the very least produced one of late-2017’s most promising prospects.

A young quintet whose debut album Colors is officially released today (November 4th) on Miss Champagne Records, El Lago both embraces the atmosphere of their home town – there’s a certain easy/loose feel to their sound that suggests the town’s designation as a ‘humid subtropical’ climate – and dreamily transcends it, as proven not only by the fact that opening track “Devotion”‘s effortless, enchanting vibe-similarity to Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac is evocative – and plain damned addictive – enough to wonder where why there’s no ‘u’ in Colors, but additionally by the way first single “Into the Clearing” could be a gilded Pale Saints backing up Kate Bush in her early prime and how the title track indulges in a blissful wall-of-[shoegaze]-sound that would seem but a glimmering mirage to most inhabitants of ‘Oleander City.’

What it reflects, in short, is that most wonderful product of young artists’ yearning imagination, pop transcendence. There is no sense of limitations here, only possibility. They seem, in fact, to have leaped right past potential and straight into full-on realization, which would make El Lago pretty damned special no matter where they were from.

[check below the preview for a track-by-track of Colors by the band themselves – Lauren Eddy guitar/vocals, Jaron Hall guitar, Jacob Villarreal bass, Charles Eddy drums, Austin Sepulvado synth]
  1. “Tentative Threads” began as a hymn to ferns growing on a brick wall—all the green things that slowly take back manmade structures over time. The song is also a nod to mortality; no one escapes the “persistent grip” of time and decay. The fingerpicking is a holdover from now-lost bedroom tracks, since this is the very first song Lauren wrote on electric guitar.

    In the studio, the guitars were tracked together and kept very natural. One of the references was a Talk Talk song called “New Grass” on the 1991 album Laughing Stock, so Steve emphasized room mics for the drums. “Tentative Threads” is also included on the Hurricane Harvey relief compilation, Making Waves, on Miss Champagne Records.

  1. The partly-spoken verses of “Into the Clearing” were penned on Memorial Day. Lauren’s neighbor at the time was a Vietnam veteran who had also survived cancer attributed to Agent Orange exposure. He talked about the bizarre drug experiments as well, perhaps alluding to the 7,000 soldiers at Edgewood Arsenal, or maybe the military-encouraged substance use in the field.

    The lyrics try to imagine the perspective of a young soldier who was drafted against his will. He might feel that he is suddenly pushed to the very knife’s edge, all under the silent judgment that he has less to lose than other people. “How convenient to carry no ties… not vested in life.”  

  1. “Tell Me How It Ends” perpetually wonders what could be around the next corner. The compulsion to glimpse the future is hard to turn off, and the chorus asks, “Can I live without dreaming?” The song has an almost dancy rhythm section because it was written over the beat of a cheesy thrift store keyboard. The keyboard never left the writing sessions, and the song picked up a more driven energy over the course of live shows.

  1. “Room to Room” describes the way a certain pattern of living, or a standard of living, can be a form of captivity. The speaker recognizes that it is a “voluntary confinement,” and considers making even a wrong turn rather than being trapped in a too-familiar life with a static identity. True to the mood, this was the only song not recorded with a click track, and the push and pull of the song builds the tension.

  1. “Colors” ripped it’s way out of the practice room an entirely different animal. Intense election-era family divides inspired the chorus: “I know you’re discouraged to find me on the other side, and now we’re flying colors.” Developing the song was excruciating on its own terms. With each transformation, the chords deepened, the tempo slowed down, the lyrics shifted into the abstract. It’s the most paced song on the album, but there’s a coiled strength in restraint. “Colors” is a kind of battle anthem.

  1. “Underneath” was built from the first shimmery chords of the song, which suggested something moonlit and dreamy. When the vocals come back in at the end, the song intensifies and expands, ending on the thought that It’s a risk to speak the words first, but also a risk to stay silent.

  1. “Devotion” broods a little, but mostly wants to go out and find an alternative kind of life—even though the pressure still remains to live traditionally and pursue a house in the suburbs. It references the kind of energy and social world of going out to live shows, and perhaps evading expectations.

  1. “Dinner Guests” found an aggressive edge when Lauren tried doubling the chords with a sound-retaining effect.The lyrics hide behind the noise and the abstraction, in a way, but they describe the lengths we go to justify our emotions and behaviors, imagining them as wild animals at the dinner table. We may try to dress them up and present them in a good light, but it’s still a mess!