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The Elected

at Bottom of the Hill, 1/21

The Elected wear their influences on their collective sleeve. The band is a side project of Rilo Kiley's guitarist Blake Sennett and pays unabashed tribute to Elliott Smith, the Byrds, the Zombies, and other melodic folk-rockers. The presence of Smith is perhaps the most dominating, and manifests itself most directly in Sennett's frail, upper register tenor. The timbre of his voice is strikingly similar to Smiths, as are many of his vocal stylings -- even down to the specific way in which he forces out profanities.

Compositionally, the music owes much to 60s folk-rock songwriting. Where Elliott Smith referenced his influences only in hints and implications, supplying an entirely unique form and melody, The Elected tend towards much more traditional song structures. While Elliott Smith's work was difficult to compare to any specific style, The Elected settle comfortably amongst more direct references and forms. They subtly jump from folk to country to old-time to indie-rock without batting an eyelash or making a scene.

The references as described in the preceding sentence sound more disparate than they actually are. The net effect of the genre hopping is practically invisible, hidden amongst the rich textures and lush production. Music geeks take note: the song "A Time for Emily" is a fantastic tribute (or an incredibly careless rip-off) of the Zombies song "A Rose for Emily", both in its title and its piano driven harmonies.

Nothing about the Elected is surprising or particularly unexpected, but none of it is unwelcome, either. The musicianship is inspired, and the flourishes genuine. A tenor sax solo here, a banjo there, a mouth harp elsewhere – none of it seems out of place. Rather than being taken aback by such touches, the listener is instead beset with a whimsical feeling of familiarity. It's as though we knew it would all be there, but had temporarily forgotten.

The Elected are a group of professional songsmiths. The music is masterfully composed, and perfectly arranged. Lilting at times and melancholy at others, it always seems to build to gloriously textured peaks and climaxes. And most of all, it's all really, really pretty.

The Elected
at Bottom of the Hill, Sat, 1/21
(Record release show: new record on Sub Pop
featuring Blake Sennett of Rilo Kiley)