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Arts and Entertainment

Earlimart's Mentor Tormentor: An amagalm of LA elements

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Mentor Tormentor
Majordomo Records
released August 21st, 2007

Let me be the first to say that this year will be huge for LA bands. I've written about the not-so obvious, Acute, and the obvious, Sea Wolf. Despite their associations, Earlimart fits in with the former category, but not for long. Their forthcoming album Mentor Tormentor is a prodigious effort that links them to various well-known Los Angeles musicians.

The connections begin with The Ship, an Earlimart-owned studio nestled in the eccentric hills of Eagle Rock. The Ship has produced some of LA's favorite acts: Great Northern and Silversun Pickups. Also, Jason "The Professor" Borger, who recently joined forces with Acute for their latest release Arms Around A Stranger, orchestrated the integral arrangements for Mentor Tormentor. But it doesn't stop there. Dave Trumfio, who has worked with Wilco and Grandaddy (another artist who recorded in The Ship), mixed the new Earlimart and he recorded Acute's Arms Around A Stranger. If I mapped all of this out, then it might turn out as convoluted as the constellations.

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Mentor Tormentor is a comprehensive record, incorporating various elements that LA people have come to accept as commonplace. If you've ever listened to Sea Wolf, The Little Ones, Silversun Pickups or Great Northern, then you know what I'm talking about. With that said, "Fakey Fake" opens the record in a colossal manner. The song progressively builds upon a minimal repetitive acoustic riff, slowly but surely developing into a massive clap-infused chorus. Aaron Espinoza's timid Elliott Smith-style vocals, backed by haunting harmonies, are entirely unique to LA. I can't say anyone does it better.

"Answers And Questions" could easily pass for a pop-rock song you've heard before. The chorus melody demonstrates Earlimart's propensity for tremendous dreamy pop. I think to myself: "Wait, have I heard this before?" My second-guessing is indicative of the catchy and furthermore classic facets which comprise Mentor Tormentor.

"Happy Alone" focuses upon the dulcet tones of Ariana Murray. Murray's ballad comes off as a deliberate collision betwixt Stars and Great Northern. "The World" brings me back to Elliott Smith again. The piano-based song is accentuated by the lush arrangements of "The Professor". Ever heard Elliott's "Bottle Up and Explode! (Early Version)"?

"Nevermind The Phonecalls" reminds me entirely of an Acute song. Espinoza takes on the blasé yet emotional low-key belting that I've associated with Isaac Lekach, Acute's frontman. "Nothing Is True" is a feel-good, clap-along song that sums up Earlimart's sound. The sustaining harmonies, random quirky noises, as well as the whistling make for one of the best songs on the record.

The fact that Earlimart had the luxury of recording in their own studio over years is evident within this well-built, anthemic record. Excuse the contrived cliché, but the proof is in the pudding. Unlike other records, you don't get lost in the latter half of the 15 song endeavor. Mentor Tormentor proves that Earlimart is a heavy-weight competitor for the best record from an LA band since Great Northern and Silversun Pickups. Although, we have yet to see the full-lengths from The Little Ones and Sea Wolf. Mentor Tormentor arrives via Majordomo Records on August 21st.

Earlimart - "Answers And Questions"