Old Gerbils Back Up in Your Butt
Athens’ Elephant 6 Recording Company opens the vaults on Aug. 9 to share a vinyl reissue of The Gerbils’ 1998 debut Are You Sleepy? Beyond being a fun, psychedelic pop album that’s bathed in 4-track tape warble, this one should interest collectors because Neutral Milk Hotel’s Scott Spillane (a.k.a. the guy with magnificent beards) and Jeremy Barnes were members of the Athens-via-Ruston, Louisiana band.
Bedroom pop fans will eat up these 11 lo-fi cuts. “Is She Fiona” gives a weirdo indie update to the psychedelic pop of, say, The Monkees when they wrote their own material. Those same vocal harmonies go down twisted paths on “Fluid,” “Walnuts” and the slightly terrifying sound collage “Wet Host.”
The musicianship and creativity associated with Elephant 6 are there in spades. Had these songs been recorded a little later with better equipment, they might be a much bigger part of the Athens scene’s reputation.