Album Review: Little Elephant

Little Elephant
Live at Highland Hall

Little Elephant, a self-described “janky post-rock” trio, bring some serious polish on this live outing. Recorded at Western Washington University’s Highland Hall, the now defunct group serve up a collection of 11 instrumental wanderings. Led by Tom Smith’s multilayered guitars and Ben Boatright’s explosive drums, bassist Dan Rupert holds the chaos together with straightforward basslines.
Sonically, these guys are all over the place. Tracks like “Gonzo’s Quest” deliver a meandering swing bookended mean rockabilly riff, whereas “Del Boca Vista” is a devastating Mogwai-like build that really shines in its spiraling repetition. Occasionally, the tracks find themselves wandering a little, but it usually comes back in with gusto. The lack of lyrics can sometimes create a sense of being lost in the songs, but Little Elephant usually brings it back soon enough to hit you with a knockout punch of delay driven guitars, all-snare drum fills and filthy distorted bass. Those of you named Steve had best watch out if “I’m Gonna Fight You Steve” is as serious as this recording sounds.
Not to be ignored is the production work, recorded by local musician Brendan Silk. Brendan has done a number of recordings for bands at impromptu shows like these, but this one in particular is a credit to both the band and the producer. The guitars are brutally articulate, the kick and snare hits annihilate, and the bass rumbles in like a semi-truck cutting you off on the freeway. The band’s performance is spot on, and despite being essentially broken up according to their Facebook page, I can’t think of a better way to round out a career than with a kickass live album like this one.
–Charlie Walentiny