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Hold Tight the Ropes

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Album Review

On their second full-length release, Elk City further refines their blend of psychedelia, folk-rock, and indie rock with Hold Tight the Ropes. Presenting a caustic and vulnerable beauty, guitarist Peter Langland-Hassan and bassist (actually a Fender-Rhodes piano bass) Renee LoBue create strangely intense dark dialogues over a hazy din of ominous sounds. A study in combining slightly contrary elements, LoBue's sighing vocals and Langland-Hassan's almost taunting, Stephen Malkmus-esque delivery create an odd tension between the apparent resignation and defiance found in the moods displayed. With lean, muscular guitars becoming quite reminiscent of Neil Young's late-'70s work with Crazy Horse, they manage to shovel several layers of dissonance over the vocals, rendering them fairly indecipherable but not keeping the underlying moods from fully emerging. Although the rather no-frills approach generally suits them very well, the burned-out balladry of tracks like "Crimson" and the three-chord catchiness of "Summer Song" provide particularly affecting moments. Ultimately, even though the everyday elements of their generally irony-free songwriting makes them a band somewhat lacking in gimmicks, Elk City are masters at taking the commonplace and creating something vaguely familiar and inviting but deceptively enduring all the same.

Customer Reviews

the sleeper album of 2004

This album is simply fantastic. I've bought it more than once in order to have a copy for work and home. I've even bought this as a gift for a friend. Every song on here is great. There's a lot of boy vs girl vocals here and it works very well. Great guitar work and production. I can't recommend this album enough. I hear music like this and it breaks my heart to not see artits like these get the credit and recognition they deserve. I am so glad though its at least available on itunes.


Formed: 1997 in New York, NY

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

New York art pop trio Elk City spun off from the alternative rock-era group the Melting Hopefuls in late 1997. Both groups feature drummer Ray Ketchem and singer/bassist Renee LoBue, but the addition of singer/guitarist Peter Langland-Hassan truly makes Elk City a different (and better) group. Indeed, Elk City (no connection to the western Oklahoma town of the same name should be inferred) began when Langland-Hassan auditioned for a new lineup of the Melting Hopefuls, an ever-shifting unit LoBue...
Full Bio
Hold Tight the Ropes, Elk City
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