Over the past decade there have only been a couple of bands that have been able to interpret and pay tribute to the Beatles mid-60s pop in a completely new and innovative way. For every ten Zeppelins or Doors knockoff bands there was only one who dared to attempt the Beatles. While Guided By Voices took Paul and John’s penchant for the intelligent pop hook and pared these hooks down to the barest essence, the Atlanta musical collective Olivia Tremor Control took Paul and John by the hand and then had the audacity to sprinkle on top a little Brian Wilson as well. The result is an artier, slightly less accessible melange of the two aforementioned bands.
On “Black Foliage,” the OTC’s predictably ambitious 27 track newest effort, there are definitely a few throwaway tunes that you could program out of the CD. But by pulling out sounds from just about anything they can get their hands on (saws, plates, bells, brass, strings, guitars and a whole bunch of unidentifiable stuff) you tend to hear just how creative and ambitious they are.
“Black Foliage” isn’t quite as consistently poppy or accessible “Cubist Castle” but with all the other Elephant 6 projects the band has been a part of (Beulah, Elf Power, The Minders, Neutral Milk Hotel, Apples In Stereo, etc.) this is definitely the kind of product that results from a 2.5 year recording schedule. Still this is a remarkable pop record as dense and light as a record can be.