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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Elvis Perkins performs honest, creative ‘folk and roll'”

    Elvis Perkins doesn’t care for the singer-songwriter label. It’s most likely because much more goes into his songs than simply just singing and songwriting.

    Perkins is the kind of musician who can silence an entire room with a few strums of his acoustic guitar. His distinctive voice and intelligent lyrics also make for a memorable live show. He’ll have you enraptured even before his band, known collectively as Elvis Perkins in Dearland, joins in.

    “”We play folk and roll,”” Perkins said with a witty tone. “”It’s a departure from folk rock.””

    Perkins’ description is true to his sound. Fans of so-called singer-songwriter acts Bright Eyes and Neutral Milk Hotel are likely to appreciate Perkins’ lyrical honesty and creativity. While Bright Eyes is often criticized for overtly grumbling songs, Perkins’ debut record “”Ash Wednesday”” is not likely to draw such criticism. Imagination and clarity are at the heart of the album’s songs, not drunken anecdotes.

    One such example is the soaring “”Emile’s Vietnam in the Sky”” which showcases Perkins’ intensely emotional yet imaginative songwriting. While it is the album’s shortest song, it is its most memorable. Imagery including “”milk clouds”” and “”the ghosts of cappuccino”” inspires the listener to paint a mental picture. Perkins’ inquiry “”Do you ever wonder where you go when you die?”” in the song’s chorus is far too poignant to simply forget.

    Perkins’ upcoming tour is his band’s first headlining journey. In addition to their American jaunt lasting until late April, the band is also scheduled to play at the hyped Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in June.

    “”It’s going to be a new thing for us,”” Perkins said referring to the headlining tour. “”I’m looking forward to it although I’m not sure what I’m looking forward to.””

    The band, however, is no stranger to the road having opened for acts like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and My Morning Jacket. Perkins said he is most inspired by musicians he has the opportunity to meet and play shows with.

    Compared to Perkins’ studio recordings, the band’s live performances of the songs are slightly changed. One major change is the inability to reproduce the sheer amount of instrumentation found on the record. For example, strings are found throughout “”Ash Wednesday,”” but are not present live.

    “”A lot of the tracks on the record have a lot more going on than we can provide on stage,”” Perkins said.

    Still, Perkins’ live performance is quite an event. An upright bass and marching drum used by the band make their show a unique experience. Another unique feature is an instrument called the harmonium, which resembles an accordion placed on a stand.

    So how will Perkins decide if his debut record is a success? In his opinion, it already is.

    “”I think that it is successful already in that it found a home on a nice label,”” Perkins said.

    “”Ash Wednesday”” was released a day before the real Ash Wednesday on XL Recordings, home to superstars like The White Stripes and Thom Yorke.

    “”Hopefully it will inspire, stimulate or do something for the troubled human consciousness,”” Perkins optimistically added.

    Elvis Perkins in Dearland performs live at Club Congress on Tuesday, March 20. The performance is part of Tucson’s West By Southwest event based on the popular South By Southwest music festival held in Austin, Texas. Doors open at 8 p.m. for this 21 and up show. Tickets are $8.

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