Earlimart is one of those bands that gets showered with critical praise, yet floats quietly below the mainstream radar. They’re the indie world’s version of the TV show Mad Men -- slow to develop and stridently true to what they do.
It's not often that the Tri-Cities can play host to a concert by a band like this. In fact, it's more like never. This is the kind of band that plays Seattle, Portland and Los Angeles, just dropping down as far as I-90 to cross the state. But guess what? The band will rock the Red Room in Kennewick on Sept. 27.
"We were looking to fill in a couple nights and decided to play a couple of weird little towns ... not that your town is weird," lead singer Aaron Espinoza said through his iPhone while coasting past Grants Pass, Ore., on the band's way to Eugene.
I'll forgive him for that one because he, like everyone else I've ever talked to outside these city limits, is pretty clueless to the goings-on here. But the same goes for you, who has never heard of Earlimart. The fact that they'll be playing a show here is big, and I'll leave it at that.
Earlimart's subdued, spacy indie-rock is the stuff many bands stretch for yet rarely attain without coming off as trying too hard. Many a critic has compared the band's sound to the electro-indie Grandaddy and Espinoza's vocals a dead ringer to those of the late anti-folk hero Elliott Smith. But in talking to Espinoza, the sarcasm of his explanations for just about everything are contrary to the earnestness of his music.
I asked Espinoza about his love of words, as a few of his recent albums have featured wordplay titles as Hymn and Her, Mentor Tormentor and Treble & Tremble.
"We've kind of fallen into a pattern there, huh?" speaking as though he's never been asked the question before. "It's kind of like a cool Pavement title. There's really not too much behind it. It's kind of just fun to throw (the titles) around in the studio."
What about the influences behind the band’s latest album Hymn and Her?
"We were going for early gangsta rap like Eazy-E," which then trailed off into a long diatribe before he stopped himself to give drummer Brian Thornell's take in that it's "a modern indie-rock version of Fleetwood Mac."
Espinoza finally got serious when talking about the band's career arc and what fans can expect when seeing them live.
He bristled a little when I approached him with the flying under the radar question saying, "We've committed our lives to this for 10 years now. This is what we do. We don't want to be Coldplay. We're just doing it and working hard."
The L.A. band is touring as a threesome even though they recorded most of their last album as just Espinoza and bassist/keyboardist/singer Ariana Murray. Espinoza said their Saturday show will lean more toward tunes off of Hymn and Her, but will include a good mix from each of their six albums. They also plan on dusting off their cover of Bruce Hornsby's The Way it is.
That'd be the 2Pac version, right?