There is really something great about a band you're not familiar with suddenly grabbing you within the first couple minutes of an album. It's even better when you can just leave the album on without the urge to switch tracks swelling up. And when the sound of the band is as unassuming as Elk City's, you just feel satisfied. Rarely does their newest, New Believers, reach heights of blow-your-hair-back rock and roll. What it does do is creep right under your skin like an all-encompassing fog, evoking Goosebumps through a nice blend of subtle lounge tunes, a classic female voice, and melodies taking inspiration from every one of the past five decades.
Leading lady Renee LeBue's vocals have been likened by many to Patti Smith and a female David Bowie, both warranted comparisons. At times she sounds fragile, singing with a gentle sway ("Little Brother" "My Type Of Criminal"). Times change though, and that fragile ground gives way. "White Walls" and "Cherries In The Snow" showcase her Bowie-like swagger, where her vocals grow with passionate fervor into a thick croon.
Drummer/producer Ray Ketchum has done a good job in helping to create the overall feel here, bringing in ex-Luna guitarist Sean Eden and ex- Lovelies bassist Barbara Endes to round out the low-key sound. The band's full potential is realized at a few points through the album, rising above quiet haziness. "Totally Free" is a romp and a stomp, and one of the best times you'll have listening to a song so far this year. Nearing a "These Boots Were Made For Walking," or "I Love Rock N Roll" pitch, you might find yourself pumping your fist at some point during its 4:31. And on "You Got Me," the whole family might join in on a '60s pop trip, trying in vain to follow the Beach Boy-inspired harmonies.
My personal favorite of the album though, is "Silver Lawyers," a track that sounds like a dive-bar jukebox. In fact, it would not feel out of place to find Elk City by accident at a local dive, playing through the fog of cigarette smoke and whiskey. With that said, this isn't an album for the second half of the week. It's more of a Tuesday night album. Any way you look at it though, you'll be satisfied.