RX clerk Brion Rushton rocks Idaho roots with his Staff Pick of the Week, Leviethan‘s Everything is Fine. Dig the bearded man’s words:
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Idaho Falls, Idaho? You’d be forgiven if it isn’t “cultural hotbed.” And Levi Ethan Cecil might be the first to forgive you. He also might be the first to tell you that if you’re a young, musically creative individual growing up behind the Zion Curtain, your best bet is following his lead and leaving as quickly as you can.
Mr. Cecil made the migration to our state’s capital after high school graduation, spent five years here playing in a variety of bands (Clock, You Might Die, Bovalexia), put out a compilation of Boise, Idaho bands and artists called, of all things, Boise, ID, and since 2004 has made Portland his home.
Everything is Fine is his second solo album and an improvement on his 2007 release, Monuments in Memory of Nothing So Far. Cecil sings in a high, almost strained voice that serves as a haunting complement to the ringing guitars and spectral production washing over the album. Where some of his prior record’s songs suffered from a somewhat flat presentation, the entire set of Everything is Fine shimmers. No matter if you’re listening to the buoyant opener “A Mass in Empty Space”, the prickly and rocking “I’ll Be Waiting in the Sound” or the chill-inducing centerpiece “In Heaven” (itself a David Lynch cover), there permeates a glassy texture to unify it all.
In today’s music realm, the closest sonic point of comparison might be Grizzly Bear: both are comfortable, and in fact excel, with material that regularly shifts tempo and key, give the verses as much emotional heft as the choruses and respect the spaces that come between notes. But Leviethan is no copycat. This may be a 2009 release, but most of these songs have been in Mr. Cecil’s arsenal since before Grizzly Bear practiced a single note; their inherent charm and mystery merely refined with subtly powerful arrangements and ghostly accompaniment. Consider it the indie world’s loss that Veckatimest will top all those soon-to-be released top 10s and not this Northwest gem.