US - Georgia - Full Moon 60 - 09/02/01
The Battle of Electricity
When the Gerbils visited Oslo a couple of weeks ago (with their friends, Great Lakes), I was
excited like a kid the day before x-mas. Finally I was about to see and hear at least two of my
heroes of Neutral Milk Hotel (Scott and Jeremy). I was also curios to see how the Gerbils was
like live on stage, since I've been playing their jangly-lo-fidelity first album
Are You Sleepy? quite a lot.
The gig opened with Lucky Girl, which was originally released as a single (on the
Earworm label) a couple of years ago. This teardripping song is now included here, and is a
touching (broken) love ballad. If we can take what the Gerbils sing about seriously. The Gerbils
are John D'Azzo (vocals, guitars, keys) and Scott Spillane's (vocals, guitar, horns) band, since
they write all the material and front the band. But let's not forget the oher two: fabulous drummer
Jeremy Barnes (the 'Keith Moon of our time'!). Snare drum, floor tom, and cymbal. That's it.
Unbelivable. And, there's Will Westbrook on guitar, melodica and banjo. As usual when it comes
to Elephant 6 bands a lot of little helpers has contributed: Bill Doss, Eric Harris and Peter
Erchick (of Olivia Tremor Control), Kevin Barnes (of Of Montreal), Heather McIntosh (of Great
Lakes, who played cello at the concert), plus a few more.
The sound of the Gerbils is a wild mixture of powerful psychedelic-anarchist-circus music and
more quiet, delicate moments. Flowing in all directions, with the high-pitched voice of Scott
Spillane on-top. Sometimes not far from what Grandaddy do. Other times they move more like in early
Pink Floyd footsteps. The Battle of Electricity holds 18 songs, and eight of these are sort of
short "in-between" tracks (entitled (i) to (viii)), many of them instrumentals (one drum
Are You Underwater opens, lying floating in the water. A love song treading water.
It seems like love is the theme in many of the songs. Well, it's a universal theme... A Song of
Love is a speeding, rumbling bulldozer of a song, while Fail to Mention is a more calm,
whispering pop song. The White Sky is a wild ride, quite chaotic and 'annoying'. The title
track is a full-steam, blasting exposion of a song (it was the 'grand finale' of their live set),
with Scott blowing his trumpet on top of his lungs to let us know the battle is on. Great.
The Battle of Electricity is a better album than Are you Sleepy?, but the latter's
still the most charmy one, I think. The production is deeper, wider, bigger, and there are some
great songs, yes. But no Fluid.
Copyright © 2001 Håvard Oppøyen