Band page created in 2006.
Twenty-something years ago, a group of folks--healers, airmen, woodcutters, hunters, and members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir-give birth to five children in various locales. As the children grow, their folks force upon them Simon and Garfunkel, Beach Boys and Beatles, old country, bad lite-rock and Christian nursery rhymes, a little jazz, and a bunch of AM radio. The five kids are kinda weird; they get chased by things unreal through the woods and try to talk to airplanes with scrap metal. Time is spent at the altar, concussions are landed... They do things they're not supposed to and bum the other kids out in choir and band class. They're remembering, quite well, the music they've heard.
The kids get bigger, doing more stuff they shouldn't do-along with the skateboarding thing and the punk rock thing and the blues thing and the funk thing and the dub/reggae thing. They're boys in bands, driving vans across the land for spare change, over and over forever, because that's what kids in bands do. They keep growing and keep remembering, quite well, what they listened to when they were brand-new.
More presently: Two of them, Nor'Easterners, find themselves along side the other two, NorCal natives, in San Francisco. The noise starts quietly (acoustics, banjos, piani, violins, brushes; 2003) in a Mission District kitchen and on a bedroom 8-track analog recorder closer to the Presidio. They start with harmony over melody, in the finest traditions of Americana, soul, reggae, and blues. As shows happen, things get louder (Gibsons, old Fender amps, lap steels, Rhodes and Hammonds, harmonicas, melodicas, synths, big sweet drums and heavy bass; 2005)-but the cool thing is that they learn to be plenty quiet or raucous, all in the same set. They become expert at creating live shows wherein each song builds upon a different sound and volume. They charm the coveralls off of freak Bohemians at folk festivals and fog up the indie girls' and boys' glasses at the rock club. Loud or soft, there's always a big groove that make the kids and folks move. They call themselves El Capitan. Where they're at right now is imbedded in this record.
What Ails You was written to a one-inch tape machine at Bart Thurber's House Of Faith studio in Oakland, CA, hand-mixed down to two-track without the aid of automation or a computer. It's an album of roots music in its purest form, full of masterful rhythms, tones, performances, and emotion. The songs start at midnight on a California forest floor and end up on the flip side of the moon. Within, you're as likely to hear a sad folk fable singing the fate of firefighters on the Stanislaus as you are a desperate, sonic brew of feedback and heavenly harmonies, where words are less about the language spoken and more about how fragments of vocalized sound flow into and out of each other. It's the first, granite truth about Ails You: These songs-the arrangements, writing, and instrumentation-are as solid as they come. Whether simple and literal or straight outta the cosmos-whether they make you think about man vs. nature vs. machine or not-the hooks in these tunes will keep you up at night and burn themselves into your memory.
Oh yeah-they sing about girls, too: pretty ones, wrong ones, and ones who don't love you no more. And if you've read this far and haven't listened yet? Well, that's an awful shame.