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coverpic flag US - Georgia - Full Moon 235 - 10/27/15

French Exit
Jerk Store
Garden Gate Records

The 'legacy' from the Elephant 6 collective goes on, the well never runs dry. Or, rather, the cultural heritage from E6 continues to live on, to evolve, to swirl and twirl. The flame is still on. Well, some of the E6 main players are still active, but the Apples in Stereo haven't released any music in five years. The Olivia Tremor Control (OTC) are on hold since the death of Bill Doss (RIP) on 31 July 2012, but we're still awaiting the unfinished master(?) piece, The Same Place.... Neutral Milk Hotel have toured wildly over the last couple of years, but haven't released new music since the 1998 classic In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. Beulah and The Gerbils (RIP Will Westbrook) are now (long since) defunct, but, hey!, on the bright side, Elf Power put out Sunlight on the Moon two years ago, the always brilliant Circulatory System launched Mosaics Within Mosaics last year, and of Montreal released the smashing Aureate Gloom this spring. And, it seems that the aftergrowth is fine indeed, serving and feeding us all quite well.

French Exit is the Athens, GA based quartet of AJ Griffin (vocals, keyboards, guitar, etc.), Evan Amburn (guitar), Derek Almstead (bass), Steve Hendriksen (drums). Band-leader Griffin is known from his work with the Laminated Cat project, as well working/performing with the OTC and Circulatory System. Derek Almstead has played/performed with a number of acts (incl. many a E6 band/project), such as of Montreal, Summer Hymns, Great Lakes, The Sunshine Fix, Marshmallow Coast, Vic Chesnutt, the OTC, Elf Power and many more. So, what are French Exit up to, then? Psych-pop popsike from the colorful, flowery and mystic tree-house in the secret back-garden. Yes? Plus more. According to Garden Gate, Jerk Store will 'appeal to fans of OTC, The Gerbils, and other bands in the Elephant 6 Collective... as well as to mystics, maniacs, lovers, and people from other star systems', with its '...fantastical phase-shifted psychedelia, rippling with intricate keyboards and vocal layers'. "Raincoat" sounds like a song by The Zombies, "Highlight" sounds like it's written by Syd Barrett, while "Within Reach" sounds a bit like a very old (when Peter Gabriel dressed in drag), stripped down version of Genesis. Like, without the prog stuff, that is. In all, French Exit reminds me of both Marshmallow Coast and Circulatory System - maybe also slightly of The Music Tapes. Except that the latter are far more flimsy, childishly playful, and wild (and wonderful).

'...like those warped pop outfits [like Olivia Tremor Control and Circulatory System], French Exit is a way for Griffin to expel his inner psych pop demons. If you've ever spent time wading through the countless bands associated with the Elephant 6 Collective, you'll know exactly what you're getting into with this band.... stray psychedelia, layered keyboards and swirling vocals mesh and twist under his direction, creating something that feels familiar but also wonderfully unique.' (Nooga.com). Yes, Nooga is quite precise, but I'm not quite sure if I am a big fan of French Exit or not. Well, I end up liking the band and their album. Not as a big fan of them, but I really like their intentions, their attitude and their expression. My guess is that Jerk Store will grow on me. And, yes, I will let it do so. Grow. On. Me. Some of the neat tracks on the album so far are: "The Sky, the Sea", "Really", "Isn't it Grand", "Number", "Highlight" and the splendid "Evgenia". I think I'll spin Jerk Store to let it continue to grow and bloom. Weird pop ought to grow wild.

PS! So, what about the record title, then? I recall the Seinfeld tv-series. Who's the George? Maybe I'm the George Costanza of the series: "Well, the Jerk Store called, and they're running out of you."

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