Elephantenna in the Room: Electro-Acoustic Band Creates A Fresh Duality
Perhaps one of Austin’s little secrets, but definitely not something to hide, one-man act, L F Antenna, has been promoting his debut album this year entitled Anthills Rise & Governments Fall. On December 5, 2015 at Carousel Lounge, he performed every track off the album, and the musical integrity was refreshing. While this electro-acoustic outfit consists of one man, he still transfers the performance into a full-sounding entity with drum beats, string instruments, saxophones, and bass lines coming from the laptop while Jones belts out soulful lyrics.
Jones has referred to his music as “Kentucky-fried Radiohead,” a phrase coined by fellow musicians according to Jones’s biography. This seems most accurate, as Jones grew up in Kentucky and is rooted in singer-songwriter music, but he also explores the duality of folk and electronic music that Radiohead brought into the limelight at the turn of the millennium; not to mention, Jones makes similar lush changes in the progressions, a lot of them being in minor or diminished form. Speaking of duality, in this review, I will be describing the album alongside the context of the show at Carousel Lounge.
How perfect that Jones performed in front of Carousel Lounge’s signature elephant on stage, as he likes to make the play on words with his band name-L F Antenna said in a quick manner produces “elephantenna” (and there’s a big elephant with an antenna trunk on the cover of the album). Ah, we see what you did there. He performed all tracks in order, starting with “Dr. Greed,” a bass line groove that develops into a bluesy cry about the greedy system of medical practice. The harmonies on this one are chilling, the same fear that we all feel when the system is fraudulent or inhumane. Jones continued on with “Trampoline Dream,” which is based in a dark, folky guitar progression, but the electronic soundscape begins to cast a light as the song develops. His harmonic minor vocal melody really creates another glorious layer to this mix as well- very mesmerizing. “Still A Snake” is driven by electronic beats, as the beat goes into double-time and then eventually a beat that is almost akin to drum and bass. The song escalates as the lyrics describe the scheming nature of a snake and the sting of its bite.
After this, Jones proceeded to the piano, solemnly serenading the crowd on “Cloud Could,” and this one is full of string accompaniment which paints the picture of clouds, rain, and a “ghost behind the veil”; a very heart-felt piece. The next song, “Brush It Away,” was a happier change of pace in the show, to which Jones said it was more “tongue in cheek.” It’s also the halfway mark on the album, so it makes for a nice pause among Jones’s sentimental transendence, if you will. Jones switched back to the dark side, by starting off “Bow and Arrow” with low strings off the laptop-a play on the image of a bow for a string instrument vs. a bow as a weapon, I gather. Honestly, this one is perfect for a movie soundtrack, as it has characters, a plot, riveting imagery, and a lot of lush texture. This song segued into “Common Need,” which has more of a provocative nature-alternating between saxophones and sustained strings. Jones really knows how to make a composition, not just a song. Again, bravo.
“Old Photo” has to be the friendly nod to Radiohead, as the rhythmic sequence in the guitar is reminescent, but it’s so wonderful in its own right. It’s always a pleasure when a song takes you somewhere, and then you’re not sure when it’s going to end. I looked around the crowd when he was performing these last few songs, and I could see faces transfixed on not anything particular, just existence.
I think the title track he performed after this had a similar effect, except you are not sure how it’s going to change. “Anthills Rise & Governments Fall” is a song full of sections, each going back to a chorus of long notes in the vocals and strings. How can you not appreciate songs that are orchestrated, having multiple sections, and those just having the ability to create escape? If you had enough of that, Jones did conclude the show and the album with a simple piano song, “Apocalyptic Love Song.”
I encourage any listener to have a listen to this album and try to catch L F Antenna whenever possible in Austin, TX. It’s not your typical indie show that we’ve all heard before, not the conventional use of software on a laptop, and not a soulless performance. Musicians can combine the acoustic setting with electronic beats and create something beautiful. We just have to keep an ear out, our own version of the antenna itself.
For more information on L F Antenna, visit http://www.lfantenna.com/