Elephant Micah

Elephant Micah and the Loud Guitars

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The second 2004 release by Elephant Micah on Time-Lag, clearly designed as a counterpart to the earlier Elephant Micah and the Palmyra Palm, Loud Guitars unsurprisingly seems to live up to its name right from the start. Instead of the more delicate combination of approaches on the earlier release, here Elephant Micah (aka Joseph O'Connell) kicks in with a brief noisy blast called "A Duo Sonic Spiritual." But it's not just that, as the calm folk guitar meets e-bow drone of "As the Ghost" then immediately proves, and from there O'Connell creates another fine collection of often absolutely lovely songs, intentionally but never randomly tweaking the arrangements with unexpected overdubs and sudden additions. There are indeed more loud guitars as such throughout, combined with more traditional rock band arrangements (again, as such -- thus the steady drumming punch on "Mt. Dave Golan" and "Nobody Knows, Rosie," the latter in its own way a kind of miniature epic anthem of sorrow of the kind that runs from Neil Young through Dinosaur Jr. and Built to Spill to here -- though with less soloing, admittedly). But if consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, then O'Connell deftly avoids it by once again working within a singer/songwriter style on the one hand while trying out other ways to test the style as he continues through the album. So "Candy" starts with just his voice and acoustic guitar but soon evolves into a multi-track, semi-call-and-response vocal and layering of guitar parts, while "Tempo of Doom" -- no death march or anything, it should be noted -- plays around with the hiss gambit of lo-fi in a way that sounds more like a strange, decades old broadcast. Perhaps one of the most straightforward songs he's ever done surfaces near the end with "Something Psychedelic" -- which is actually anything but, in conventional terms, being O'Connell, his acoustic guitar, and a calm, slow melody.