Earlimart – The Avenues EP

The Avenues EP

It’s been a while since I first heard Earlimart’s Filthy Doorways (1999) album – actually, several years now. And while I wasn’t won over by that album completely, it intrigued me. It represented some diverse indie rock, and I wanted to hear more. Now, as a prelude to the newest full-length album, Everyone Down Here, comes the absolutely wonderful The Avenues EP, and I think Earlimart has, in that intervening time, found their sound.
As far as I know, Earlimart is almost exclusively the project of Aaron Espinoza, a California native whose music represents a kind of bleak outlook of his area at times while drawing from a variety of his indie-rock forebearers. The music here is charming and beautiful, combining elements of drifting, folk-influenced music as well as noisier indie-rock. It’s in the beautiful moments that Earlimart completely wins me over.
The soft “Color Bars” starts this too-short EP with some interesting electronics providing a soft beat, rich cello and violin providing the backing, and everything from light, playful piano to full-blown guitars and drums, with Espinoza’s vocals drifting in beautifully. All those components could create a song so overblown it would be worthless, but here it’s perfect, layered beautifully and creating a kind of soft and melancholy mood that Espinoza’s voice backs up perfectly. It’s followed by the much thicker, distortion-filled “Susan’s Husband’s Gunshop,” which sounds like Lou Barlow combining his Sebadoh and Folk Implosion projects. Yet there’s this very cool sort of eerie background to the song that wins me over quickly.
The best tracks here are the soft, acoustic “Interloper,” and its following instrumental track. Here, Earlimart sounds more akin to Crooked Fingers or Songs: Ohia, drifting along on acoustic guitar and soft piano. What starts as melancholy and dark gets almost incredibly catchy and sweet-sounding on the instrumental that blends seamlessly. The closer, “Parking Lots,” is a too-short bit of Elliot Smith-esque indie-pop, soft and sweet and over before you know it, as is the entire EP.
This EP is far and away better than Filthy Doorways, the first Earlimart release, and it shows a project that is reaching its musical peak. Aaron Espinoza has created something lovely here, bringing in a variety of instruments to fill out his melancholy sound. And while the one noisier track sounds out of place (it was originally released on a compilation album), it shows the other side of Earlimart, the more noisy indie-rock side. And both show incredible amounts of talent.