I can understand why people would want to associate their band with the likes of Devendra Banhart, Iron & Wine and other like-minded nü-folkies. A few years back the indie scene regressed into the tinny backwoods sounds created by one of the most criminally underrated instruments ever, the banjo. This new ‘scene,’ one that more often than not featured headdresses, hushed vocals and campfire chants, seemed unstoppable. Every week, it seemed as though a new band crawled out of the woodpile behind the shed, beards overgrown from a long winter’s nap, ready to pluck away at a moment’s notice. Yet, just as quickly as it arrived, it seemed to disappear. We’ve been waiting on pins and needles for follow-ups from the aforementioned artists while others have outright disappeared or broadened their sound to outgrow the description. Formerly a folk duo, Low Low Low La La La Love Love Love has returned in a group format, and falls into that latter category of broadening that original tinny sound. I can tell you right now that I’m not repeating that band name again throughout the body of the article. You can expect either 9L or Lx9 or even just Low Low. The new record is called Ends of June and was ironically released at the end of May. Wise guys, eh?
If Austin band Midlake is an amalgamation of indie folk and 70’s AM radio mainstays Fleetwood Mac, then it’s fair to say that 9L is a combination of a similar indie folk and ’70s radio mainstays Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Gorgeous stretching acoustic phrases are layered over with harmonic vocals that soothe the savage breast. The thing is, those two cats in the yard have turned into two cars on cinderblocks rusting in the sun. Not that it’s a bad thing. What I mean is, there’s something naturally nostalgic about 9L. Banjoes and harmonicas throughout the album only lend to the reverie for the decade with the shaggy hair, bellbottomed trousers and fringed cowboy shirts. It’s as if Kelly Leak from the Bad News Bears started a bar band after Little League so he could get more chicks. “The Way You Play” is the perfect introduction to the album, drowsy and melodic, like a new indie take on “Tequila Sunrise.”
Echoes of Nick Drake, the Flying Burrito Brothers and Buffalo Springfield reverberate throughout Ends of June, a lazy summer evening album if ever there was one. “Iron in the Soul” defies logic by being a tense yet slow burning track. The pining sound of the guitar and the throwback A.M. radio drum patterns send one spinning into memory faster than Proust eating a cookie. The closest similarity to an existing act is probably to Will Oldham. Listen to “Believer,” aptly enough, to come to this realization. Songs like this highlight go to show that there’s still more ground to cover in this once recently popular genre. The full band aspect has done been before, and so has the harmonized vocals, but never together in such a way as this.