LA Band Love: Everest Come Into Their Own With “Ownerless”

Everest – Ownerless
Released: June 26, 2012

In March I received an invite from Everest guitarist Joel Graves for a listening session they were hosting at New Monkey Studio (Elliott Smith, anyone?) in Van Nuys, CA for the finished product of their forthcoming album, Ownerless. Of course, I gladly accepted. This- their third full length and follow up to 2010’s On Approach – was an album on my mental “looking forward to” list because I appreciate their treatment of alt-country, classic rock and Americana touched with hazy psychelica. Not everyone can lucidly bleed the sounds into one another without haphazardly tripping over him or herself in the effort, but Everest have done it cohesively for years and done it well. Understatedly well. If your ears lean towards this craft, combined with lyrics worthy of feeling, put Ownerless on your radar.

“Every night is a rapture. You disappear.”

With production assistance from Richard Swift and Rob Schnapf, Ownerless sounds like 12 tracks of Russell Pollard (vocals/guitar/drums), Joel Graves (guitar/keys/vocals), Jason Soda (guitar/keys/vocals), and Eli Thomson (bass/vocals) breathing a little freer and with fewer restraints; self-imposed or otherwise. Jumpstarted by the layers of texture and classic rock sound of “Rapture” and the soothing of the spacey groove that drags through “Into the Grey”, this is their wheelhouse: angsty but sublime. The album does modulate and shift to accommodate the multiple artistic minds that have created it; the band does consist of four lifetime musicians and songwriters of varied influences and opinions and that’s a lot to fit into the space of one album. But well represented are the colors and feelings such as “We all have great expectations. We can’t forget who we are. Don’t let it drag you down.” in “Raking Me Over The Coals” which is as discomforting and comfortable as Everest has ever been.

When we were in the studio listening to the fifth track “Never Disappoint,” I kept waiting for lyrics and Russ’ voice to insert themselves, enjoying the moment until they did. It took a while for it to dawn on me that this was- indeed- an instrumental track and, when it did, I nodded. It was a juncture in the listening that felt good because of the absence of words. In tandem with the full body of sound and the track’s brevity, it was a well-placed space for thought. Is it a single primed to burn up the Billboard Hot 100? No, but it is a typically honest piece of the band’s musical expression.

Ownerless is a natural, very unforced progression in the band’s career; its production and presentation seemingly more a pleasure than a chore and that can be a very important factor in creativity. It’s not their gig to overwhelm or sonically shock the listener, or to purposefully make music directed at a specific target. It is their gig to gradually peel back their layers to unearth all of their rich and not particularly easy to pigeonhole style, letting it take root wherever and with whomever it may. But this is who they are and Everest finally owns it.

As they’re on the road throughout the summer, check out Everest’s upcoming tour dates (w/ Alberta Cross) here.