Often descriptions of bands fall into the equation of "this well known group plus this other established act plus a few adjectives." But some bands defy this shorthand, offering something so pure & true that its roots aren't apparent. Everest is this sort, taking us down to foundational rock truths with an easy glide and expansive vision. While one can draw some clues from the folks they've toured with - Neil Young, Wilco, My Morning Jacket - ultimately Everest is simply a great rock 'n' roll band in the classic, open-minded mold, something boldly apparent on their sophomore release, On Approach (arriving May 11 on Vapor Records).
Formed in Los Angeles in 2007, Everest is comprised of Russell Pollard (vocals, guitar, drums, lyricist), Jason Soda (guitar, keys, vocals), Joel Graves (guitar, keys, vocals), Elijah Thomson (bass, vocals) and Davey Latter (drums, percussion). Their 2008 debut, Ghost Notes, drew strong critical marks and comparisons to primo Topanga Canyon, California country rock. However, none of this quite prepares one for On Approach, which finds the group in a full-tilt creative charge.
"We weren't a band for very long when we made Ghost Notes. I had songs, we recorded them in just two weeks, then immediately toured. On Approach has been a completely different experience," says Pollard. "Now it's guys who've actually struggled together and survived some tight spaces, cramped hotel rooms, some arguments and some really, really good times. There was a lot of collaboration, and we weren't afraid to do anything."
On Approach is a bold album that bolts out of the gate with an enveloping sound capable of filling large spaces, both in the outside world and between one's ears. In broad strokes, it hits the sweet spot between stratospheric, stadium size rock and gorgeous, emotionally charged pop craftsmanship. From infectious and thumping opener "Let Go" through heavy rocker "I've Had This Feeling Before," the sweet humming, "Keeping The Score," the naked romance of "Dots," the haunting, spacious roots rock of "East Illinois" and "Fallen Feather," and culminating in the boiling over cascade of closer "Catalyst," On Approach moves with a focused, switched-on intensity that announces the arrival of one of the most engaged rock units today.
On Approach isn't just an assemblage of random tracks, but a classic two-sider vinyl kind of album, where the full resonance and weight of it can only be felt by taking the full ride. Everest is this sort of band, too, one that strives for something more than three-minutes in the spotlight. These guys are lifers and the music they make is built for lifetimes, maintaining some elusive core that rewards one with each new spin.
"On Approach has all the good things that make a great record," says veteran producer/mixer Rob Schnapf who mixed Everest's latest, and who's impressive credits include such modern classics as Beck's Mellow Gold & Odelay, Elliott Smith's XO & Figure 8, as well as Foo Fighters' eponymous debut. "This record has a familiarity yet doesn't copy anything. It's expansive, and it doesn't sit in one place. Listening back to the final version, I realized it was like an old-time record experience, one you don't get any more."
With guitars that range from bright and chiming to tense and meandering, harmonies that are both delicate and pastoral, and Pollard's gentle, hazy vocals, On Approach is indeed reminiscent of a bygone era, a time before the Internet, when albums were still an art form and stories were told on vinyl. But as it exudes timelessness, as it ebbs from rustic grooves into hushed lullabies, it also asserts itself as something very of the here and now - something that is more than the sum of its parts.
"One of the things that's intriguing about this album for me, is hearing the moments where we started to transcend," reveals Pollard, "where those moments and the music became something beyond ourselves."