The Untied States of Elephant Micah (ORPHAN007)

by Elephant Micah

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1.
01:51
2.
3.
4.
05:30
5.
6.
7.
01:27
8.
9.
07:26
10.
11.
02:03
12.
13.
14.
15.

about

ORPHAN007:
• CDR = ltd to 52 copies, including Puetro Rica and Guam.
• DIGITAL = unlimited
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originally released on Orphanology in an edition of 52 copies, this album was officially re-issued on Bluesanct in February 2004 (INRI067), minus the three live tracks

from the press release:
"This collection is a yard sale of songs. You only write a song once and then must either store it away or pass it on to someone else. These were taking up too much space in my brain. All tracks are slightly used and some are thoroughly worn. Some come from the earliest EM demos, about two years ago, and a couple will appear in more polished forms on future albums. But like all things bought second hand, you'll only be able to guess each's history... or future."

- ELEPHANT MICAH, 2002
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"There is a place between the two greatest states in the union where one feels so proud to pass that they built a noble monument to rock 'n' roll, my friends."

Other than Chicago it seems unlikely that many people consider the Midwest fertile musical ground but, in fact, the flat landscape and middle-class boredom has inspired more than its fair share of musicians. From the outside it may be hard to imagine indifference motivating any great music, but the truth is that a lot of people in the Midwest are searching for something to be passionate about. I won't speculate about the upbringing of Elephant Micah but I can say that every aspect of The Untied States of Elephant Micah, right down to the blurry photography, perfectly embodies what it's like to live in a place like Pekin, IN.

Elephant Micah is Joe O'Connell, a home recordist who plays modest songs in a wash of reverb with a surprisingly small array of instruments considering the variety found in this collection of songs. Originally compiled in 2002 and released in a ridiculously small edition of 52 CD-Rs, The Untied States of Elephant Micah is an odds-and-ends collection of songs that were, as O'Connell put it, "taking up too much space in my brain." O'Connell has one of those beautiful voices that commands attention while somehow remaining soft and effortless, much like the music that accompanies it. A comparison could be drawn to Neil Young but given the unique, intentionally "lo-fi" production and the overall quality of the songs I forgot about any detectable influence almost immediately. Songs like "Old Song on New Love" and "Grace of St. Christopher" (as well as the two versions of "Ohio Arch", quoted above), with their distorted drumming and thoughtful arrangements are more than enough evidence of O'Connell's strength as a songwriter.

Often the problem with odds-and-ends collections is that they've got some great songs and some not-so-great songs and this is no exception. While the instrumental tracks are pleasant enough, using similar harmonies and instruments as the songs with vocals, most of them sound like they should be interludes yet are the same length or longer than many other tracks on the CD. There's nothing inherently wrong with them but they don't add enough to what is an otherwise terrific CD to justify taking up an entire fourth of the disc. Nevertheless, even the weak links in this collection provide a space that I'd be happy to spend more time in.

I had never heard Elephant Micah's music before and I couldn't be happier that I did. I'm always pleased to hear a songwriter with a striking and unique style in a genre so flooded with mediocrity. Although uneven at times, The Untied States of Elephant Micah's soft and spacious songs serve as a fitting reminder that there's beauty to be found in even the most vast cornfields.

RATING: 9/12

- Nick Hennies, FAKE JAZZ, USA (May 2004)

credits

released September 1, 2002

Orphanology (ORPHAN007)
digital release 18 June 2012
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The Untied States of Elephant Micah

this collection is a yard sale of songs.
you only write a song once and then must
either store it away or pass it on to someone
else.  these were taking up too much space in
my brain.  all tracks are slightly used and some
are thoroughly worn.  some come from the
earliest EM demos, about two years ago, and
a couple will appear in more polished forms on
future albums.  but like all things bought
second hand, you'll only be able to guess
each's history... or future.

the ohio arch is dedicated to katie,
spider, and the CEO.  thanks to all
the musicians who have taken time to
perform with me, and particularly those
who appear on these recordings:  russ
mcdaniel, who cheers for EM even while
on stage with EM, plays drums on 6, 13, 15. 
jason henn plays baritone on 6 and keys
on 13.  andrea salzman plays keys on 14,
and sings on 14 and 15.  finally,
much gratitude to michael anderson for
not only providing the opportunity for
this release, but also putting a great
deal of care and labor into it.

your friend,
joe o'connell
pekin, IN june 2002
_

Contact
figurehead@bluesanct.com

More from Elephant Micah:
productofpalmyra.elephantmicah.com

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Orphanology Bloomington, Indiana

Orphanology is a Day2 allied label within Bluesanct.

Orphanological releases meant to document the spaces between releases and the lost ones that never made it.

The physical releases tend to sell out very quickly, as intended, so we've decided to release them digitally for those who miss out the first time around.
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