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Alice and Friends

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Album Review

After Box Elders' 2008 Grotto Records 7", the energetic garage rock trio from Omaha gained respect on the indie circuit while touring the U.S. With two distinctly memorable characters in the group — Clayton McIntyre, a singer/bass player who resembles a Dogtown Z-boy (and often appears on-stage in a cape and biker shorts or a loincloth), and Dave Goldberg, a multi-instrumentalist who somehow plays drums and keyboards simultaneously with astounding efficiency — Memphis' Goner Records took the bait and signed the band just as rumors circulated that the group was potentially signing to Matador. Box Elders' first full-length, Alice & Friends (named after the group's favorite Korean vegan BBQ), is a step up from the low fidelity of their first outing, but only slightly. Set in their basement again, instead of recording under the supervision of the Shanks' Steve Sampley to a four-track, the threesome recorded the album by themselves after upgrading to an eight-track tape recorder. As the lack of a digital audio workstation and the stone-walled environment might suggest, it's another lo-fi, fuzzy concoction of washed-out sonics, but it's not as grating on the ear as say, Times New Viking or Eat Skull. Instead, the sound's a little closer to King Khan & His Shrines, amply drenched in dirty analog and '60s melodies, with retro touches like Farfisa organ fills and clean guitars bleeding in the red. The hit of the record, "Hole in My Head" makes a return appearance, but the songs "Alice & Friends," "Death of Me," and "Stay" are equally poppy. Call it sloppy pop (or poppy slop), but even with the raw aesthetic and tinny resonance, the songs are entirely sweet and hummable, sometimes to the point of being unshakable.


Formed: Omaha, NE

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Named for a variety of black and orange bugs described by entomologists as annoying but harmless, the Box Elders are a trio from Omaha, NE, led by brothers Jeremiah McIntyre (guitar and vocals) and Clayton McIntyre (bass and vocals), whose childhood home was infested with the insects, hundreds of which filled up a snare drum in the room where they rehearsed. Formed in 2005, the first lineup of the Box Elders included Jeremiah and Clayton's mom on drums and lead vocals, but familial tension and a...
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Alice and Friends, Box Elders
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