Elk City
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Elk City

Montclair, NJ | Established. Jan 01, 2000 | INDIE

Montclair, NJ | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2000
Band Alternative Art Rock


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos




JT: I was 20 in 1982, but don’t ask me about the synth-pop hits of the day or even post-punk. I was more enamored of the jangly guitars of ’60s-inspired Paisley Underground acts like Rain Parade and Green On Red. Maybe because, unlike the pose-centric haircut bands, you could still hear echoes of fuzzy idealism in their often-borrowed grooves, and a tendency toward inclusion rather than pretense in their ragtag sentiments. I miss that that naive quality in a lot of music these days, given the trend toward icy ’80s nostalgia.

Which may be why I’ve grown fond of Elk City‘s latest recording, Everybody’s Insecure, on Bar/None Records. It’s not that the Montclair, N.J., band calls to mind the Paisley groups musically per se; indeed, as a pre-release single they chose to do a fairly reverent cover of the Motels’ early ’80s MTV hit “Suddenly Last Summer” (a song I’m not sure ever made it through the garage haze I was in at the time), and I could see it fitting in fairly seamlessly with their live set.

What wins me over is the air of ingenuousness that pervades the tracks, personified by singer/songwriter Renée LoBue. Her songs tip-toe a tightrope between the dreamily child-like and the slightly haunted, both musically and lyrically. The melodies begin to glow with repeated spinnings, and her prettily deadpan vocals—something like a more tuneful Maureen Tucker or a sweeter Karen O—invite you to an intimate tête-à-tête about sparrows, mouths full of sun and “Root Beer Shoes.”

Drummer/producer Ray Ketchem keeps things smooth and warm, befitting the material, and Luna alumnus Sean Eden colors in the spaces with a nice variety of shimmering, chiming guitar textures. But it’s LoBue’s openness of spirit that will bring me back to Everybody’s Insecure when searching for that old Paisley feeling. - Magnet Magazine

"Elk City Finds Wisdom in Innocence With 'Everybody's Insecure' (album stream + interview)"


Everybody's Insecure is the latest release from Elk City. The record arrives on 16 March via Bar/None Records. At the nucleus of the group is Ray Ketchem and Renée LoBue, who formed the band in the late 1990s (they previously worked together in Melting Hopefuls). The new record spotlights not only Lobue's deeply poetic and expressive lyrics but her remarkable singing and Ketchem's prodigious gifts as a producer. (He's tallied credits with Guided By Voices, Luna, Brother JT and others.)

Though one can detect traces of indie sounds and pop throughout the LP, Elk City's brand of music remains largely singular, music informed by elements disparate enough that they're largely untraceable. There's often an air of the theatrical ("He's Having a Baby", "Root Beer Shoes") while the ethereal ("My Manual") and the heartfelt ("Souls in Space") are never far from reach.

Where does the process of making a new Elk City record begin?

Ray Ketchem: It's always a little bit different. This time there was a period of time where we didn't have any new material. Martin Olson, who'd been our bass player for a while, said, "Hey, I love playing the songs you wrote before I joined but we haven't written anything new in a while." Renée started writing some things. I don't know that we made a decision to start making a record, it was just song-by-song.

I read that the songs often begin with late-night recordings from Renée.

Renée LoBue: I remember being in high school and not being a songwriter yet, just into poetry but being a rabid music fan. I remember somebody saying to me, "It's like you always have a little radio playing in your head." I think that was exactly right. I hear a lot of music in my head, in my sleep, and I try to capture that as best as I can when I wake up. All this inspiration is always there. The real discipline is taking the time to capture it.

What happens from there? Is it a matter of Ray saying, "OK, what key is this? How do we arrange this?"

Ray Ketchem: That's exactly how it works. Especially for this record, Renée would have a capella melodies, complete lyrics. She'd hold up the phone at rehearsal and play us the melody that she'd recorded on her own. We'd try to figure out a key, listen to the recording a few times and then she'd join in. Once we'd found the right chords and gotten it into shape, she'd start singing. We were really trying to preserve as much of the initial inspiration as we could. That was my goal for this record, to capture not only that for the vocal but everybody's first impression of those moments.

Is there a song that paved the way for the rest of the record, where you thought, "OK. This is really on now"?

Renée LoBue: We thought we had a finished record and then I kept writing. I came into a rehearsal with the song "Sparrow" and that, along with a few other songs I wrote after it, pulled everything together. Before that, it was separate songs, not really thinking of it as full album. We were just recording. But "Sparrow" and "What It If I Said You Were Dead" we had material that really defined the other songs.

Ray Ketchem: For me, it was "What If I Said You Were Dead." When Renée said she had that one and I heard the title and her a capella recording, I knew we had to record it immediately.

I really love the song "25 Lines". Without giving too much away, can you say something about the inspiration for that track?

Renée LoBue: That was the first song that I wrote for this record. I was going through a period of writer's block and created this exercise where I would write at least 25 lines each day. They didn't have to be connected. They didn't have to make sense. They just had to be about me not holding back and exercising some creative muscle. It really freed me up, creatively. I went back through my notebook, found some lines I really loved, pieced them together and created a melody. Once I'd finished that, I was ready to write some more songs. Plus I always wanted to write a song that sounded a little bit like the Bangles' version of Prince's "Manic Monday".

Ray Ketchem: That's what she said when she presented it to the band: "Think 'Manic Monday!'" We kept it kind of poppy and light.

I also really love "Root Beer Shoes".

Renée LoBue: I was watching a documentary about Charles Bukowski. I was fascinated by his girlfriend, Cupcakes O' Brien. I think it's maybe the closest I've come to writing a song that could be in a Broadway musical. It was very easy to write. It's just sort of me thinking aloud.

Ray Ketchem: It's very whimsical. That's what I've always loved about it. I thought we should keep it simple and then almost orchestral at the end and let it sweep you away.

Was the album title intended to steer us in a particular direction of how we're supposed to think of the songs?

Ray Ketchem: Renée suggested it and I think it brought a lot of things about the record together. It felt like the most personal record that we've ever done. It felt like it looked a little more inward than some others we've done. I remember her playing me the initial recording and saying, "I wrote this last night." I listened to it and found it staggering. I loved the message of the song. For me, it really felt like she was singing about depression and anxiety, things that all sorts of people experience. I loved what she'd expressed. It was like a centerpiece idea.

Renée LoBue: For me, it's about reaching outward. Outside of the record. When I think of that phrase, "Everybody's insecure", I think about the people listening. As creatures, we're always reaching for balance. Think of it like a coming from the perspective of a child expressing this to an adult. Moving from childhood to adulthood doesn't necessarily mean that you've gained wisdom. That's the child's observation: Everybody's insecure. - Pop Matters


Blending rock, folk, soul and jazz, NYC outfit Elk City have garnered something of a cult following that started back in the early 1990s and hasn’t used its safe word yet. From humble, noisy beginnings to a sonically rich sound that is full of depth and detail, Elk City’s soundscapes encompass galaxies while retaining intimate and introspective thoughts and feelings, like epic adventures under the skin. The group’s fifth album, Everybody’s Insecure, is being released by Bar/None Records on March 16.

Collaboration is at the core of every great band, and Elk City’s lead vocalist Renée LoBue and drummer/producer Ray Ketchem are two people ready to strap themselves into wet suits, climb into the immersion tank and get the job done. This pair is ably abetted by guitarist Sean Eden, who is currently splitting time with the re-invigorated Luna, extraordinary keyboardist Carl Baggaley and the propulsive counter melodies of bassist Martin Olson. The band has also just added a new guitarist, Chris Robertson.

Throughout the album’s recording, Ketchem was building his new studio, Magic Door, a gorgeous, good-vibes HQ for musical expression and experimentation in the center of Montclair, NJ’s arts community. Far from the humble beginnings of his first clammy basement studio, Ray has become a sought-after producer/engineer, working with Guided By Voices, Luna, Versus, Chris Mills, Brother JT, and Glenn Morrow’s Cry For Help.

Each track on Everybody’s Insecure would begin with LoBue presenting her songs using late-night voice recordings she’d sung in a ghostly, whispered warble. The band would listen intently, then come up with instrumentation ideas, chord structures and tempos while Ray kept the recorders rolling – driven by his goal of capturing the creative spark at its most luminous. Every track on Everybody’s Insecure is actually built upon those very first impressions. Session after session, Ray went to work using an arsenal of studio wizardry, mining and combining, stretching and condensing, manipulating and re-amplifying sounds, building sub mixes and adding new instruments until the final mastered version is a spit-shined sonic delight, ripe for the memory box.

Today Glide is premiering the song “25 Lines”, which kicks off with a thick bass line and the tapping of a cymbal. LoBue’s vocals are angelic with a natural pop inflection. Indeed, the tune is an infectious piece of power pop with a bridge verse that brings to mind David Bowie. In another era aka the 90s, “25 Lines” would be a radio hit and be blasting in dorm rooms throughout the country. Mostly though, it captures a band that has put in enough time together to understand the nuances of crafting a fine song, and Elk City are most certainly talented when it comes to that.

Reflecting on the inspiration behind the song,Renee LoBue has this to say:

The lyrics to “25 Lines” were assembled from an exercise I created for myself during a period of writer’s block.
The exercise was: Write 25 lines of anything that came to mind every day. If I was inspired to write more, great. If not, at least I knew I pumped a little creative iron for the day. Once I had a notebook of unrelated “lines”, I began piecing them together and found a melody. I wanted the song to have a similar feel to Prince’s, “Manic Monday”, as recorded by The Bangles. Notably, “25 Lines” was the first song written for Everybody’s Insecure. - Glide Magazine

"Elk City, the band from Montclair, releases album, 'dream pop for insomniacs'"

Renée LoBue is in her own zone onstage, romping through a performance of songs she wrote with her band, Elk City, producing a sound that she calls “dream pop for insomniacs.”

She’s wearing a flowing, layered red dress with chunky shoes, her dark corkscrew curls cascading freely to her shoulders. Her eyes are closed as she sways and sings with a voice as elegant and textured as a raw silk scarf.

“You say you want to know me/well, I'm not that showy/airing dirty laundry/Go to the toy box/reach years behind us/set of new wings,” she sings on “Sparrow.”

“I don't know if I'll ever be as free as a sparrow/they talk about/they write about/they dream about/I don't know if I'll ever be as free as a sparrow,” she continues, capping the though with a hopeful: “I'll try.”

Montclair-based Elk City has performed regularly around North Jersey, in New York City, and on tour in Europe and the U.S., for over two decades. But it hasn’t released an album since its fourth, “House of Tongues,” in 2010.

Finally, last October, the band issued a cover of The Motels’ 1983 single “Suddenly Last Summer” to tease its long-awaited fifth album.

“Everybody’s Insecure” comes out March 16 on Hoboken’s Bar/None Records, a day after a record-release show at The Bowery Electric in Manhattan.

The release caps a period of stress for Elk City, partly fueled by LoBue’s emotional relationship with the new material.

LoBue, who conceives the band’s songs and writes the lyrics, once said that she was “afraid” of the new record. “Why do I cry every time I talk about these songs?” she asked.

Now she’s finally come to terms with her feelings about “Sparrow” and the other new songs.

“I’ve moved through it. And it’s not to say that I’ve gotten past it. I’ve moved through it. I’ve gone from fear to being proud of it.” She pauses before adding: “It’s been an interesting process to go through a change of emotions and realize that it’s by communicating through songs, that, not only the songwriter, but everyone else has an opportunity to learn about themselves.”

The new songs are less abstract and more personal and confessional than any of her previous work. They’re rooted in her past.

LoBue’s family moved to Elmwood Park from West Paterson when she was a toddler. Her early life was, “let’s say, not optimal,” she said, using words such as “neglect,” “confusion,” and “trauma” to elaborate.

LoBue — who by day manages a private art collection — said that shaped how she chose to present herself to the world.

“At a very early age I had to — I knew that I had to — become another person, and I became this person,” she said. “I had to ask myself, who do you want to be? And I wanted to be this person, and I grew into being this person on purpose, because I needed to escape.”

In preparing these songs, she recognized that something had changed.

“I couldn’t run anymore,” she said.

“It wasn’t a decision where I said, ‘I’m going to write these songs about my life.’ It was just that they came out this way.”

That’s not to say that “Everybody’s Insecure” is transparently autobiographical or documentary. Its songs are just as quirky and impressionistic as the rest of Elk City’s catalog.

Drummer/producer Ray Ketchem is well positioned to confirm LoBue’s account of the songwriting process. He’s been her friend, musical collaborator, and “filter” since 1990, when they started Melting Hopefuls, which morphed into Elk City. (The name comes from a place in Ketchem’s native West Virginia.)

“We definitely went through a lot during this record,” says Ketchem, who was building his studio, Magic Door Recording in Montclair, while the album was taking shape.

“I feel like the band almost broke up a couple of times during the making of it. It wasn’t because we weren’t getting along. It was because various feelings maybe were getting a little too close to the bone.”

He remembers “times when she would say to me, ‘I don’t know, I’m confused about how I feel about this, because some of these feelings are pretty raw for me.’”

The way LoBue presented the songs to the band, in what Ketchem calls “late-night, almost diary entries” recorded on an iPhone, was equally raw.

“It was sort of a process she had to work through,” Ketchem says.

LoBue and the band fleshed out 16 of those song skeletons. (All are credited to “Renée LoBue and Elk City.”)

Ketchem assembled finished tracks from bits and pieces of recordings, rather than having the band together for a conventional session. The cathartic “What If I Said You Were Dead” is the only exception

“That particular performance is live and the first time the band had ever played the song,” says Ketchem. “You can hear the musical conversation” between guitarist Sean Eden and keyboard player Carl Baggeley.

The record includes 10 of the 16 songs, with the others slated for release on Bar/None as an EP.

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It has a gently melancholic tone, but one that’s not unrelieved. “Root Beer Shoes” does the trick in a cheery, childlike, cinematic style, name-checking Ernest Hemingway and Charles Bukowski, as well as Bukowski muse Pamela “Cupcakes O’Brien” Wood.

LoBue’s discomfort with her songs wasn’t the only stress on the band in the last few years. The band was hit by the 2015 reunion of Luna, one of guitarist Eden’s other bands. While great for Eden, Luna’s demands limited his availability for Elk City.

That “really took the wind out of our sails for a little while,” Ketchem says. But then along came Chris Robertson, who joined as Elk City’s second guitarist.

That opens a brighter future for Elk City, making it possible to book a busy tour schedule with the option playing gigs as a powerful, two-guitar sextet — with LoBue, Ketchem, Eden, Robertson, Baggeley, and bassist Martin Olson — when Eden is available, and as a quintet when Eden isn’t. - North Jersey.com

"AllMusic Review by Mark Deming"

Elk City leaders Ray Ketchem (drums and production) and Renée LoBue (vocals) had plenty to keep them busy during the eight years that separated 2010's House of Tongues and 2018's Everybody's Insecure. Ketchem opened a successful recording studio in Montclair, New Jersey, and LoBue occasionally helped him out with various projects. But you have to give them credit; they've managed to stay firmly on message after a long layoff from the band. Everybody's Insecure doesn't entirely pick up where House of Tongues left off; Ketchem's production skills have gotten a bit sharper with time, and the album sounds a bit fuller than much of their previous work. The set also finds Ketchem and LoBue working with some new collaborators; guitarist Sean Eden is the only other holdover from the last incarnation of Elk City, with keyboardist Carl Baggeley and bassist Martin Olson debuting on this LP. But the well-mannered and finely crafted arty pop that's been the band's stock in trade since 2000 is ultimately little changed here, and LoBue's coolly theatrical vocal style and thoughtful if oblique lyrical stance are as strong and distinctive as they've ever been. Elk City are quite good at generating melodies that fit their template; tunes like "25 Lines" and "No Depth" display an admirable amount of hooks and energy, while more introspective tracks such as "Souls in Space" and "He's Having a Baby" show off the band's ensemble skills. At their best, Elk City sound like what 10,000 Maniacs could have been if they'd grown past their folkie inclinations, and Everybody's Insecure shows the group has matured gracefully, sounding smart and adult without tossing aside the energy of their younger days. - AllMusic

"ELK CITY - Everybody’s Insecure (Bar/None Records www.bar-none.com)"

Majestic, spacious, and graceful, Elk City plays pop for people who look for depth within their musical voyages. The instant hook of the band is the stirring vocals of Renée LoBue, whose voice soars through a series of evocative and emotionally charged songs. The opening “Sparrow” begins with a low rumble of Martin Olsen’s bass before giving way to a sinewy groove revolving around LoBue’s partially hopeful, somewhat despondent realization that she will never “be as free as the sparrow”, while “He’s Having a Baby” (“He’s having a baby/ he says he’s not ready”) is mischievous take on falling in love with the right guy at the wrong time. Sean Eden of the newly resurrected Luna offers lush guitar work throughout the ten songs, most pronounced on the gripping “25 Lines”, but also a centerpiece on the fragile, shoegazing title track and the more rollicking “No Depth”. “Root Beer Shoes” seems to hover innocently in the air, guided with delicate care by drummer Ray Ketchum, who also produced this beautiful gem of a record, and pianist Carl Baggeley. LoBue begins the song by asking, “Whatever happened to Cupcakes O’Brian/she dated Bukowski for one day”, then references Hemmingway and the simple joy of having a person’s shoe brush against yours. These simple moments are captured with extraordinary care and what others may see as simply a passing event void of meaning, LoBue uses to construct mesmerizing stories. With a combination of chilling prowess and supreme musical command, Elk City’s brand of ethereal pop will enthrall. - Jersey Beat

"Makin Waves Scene Report with Elk City, Yung Wu and More"

The forthcoming Elk City album, Everybody’s Insecure, builds on a working relationship that started back in the early 1990s and hasn’t used its safe word yet. From humble, noisy beginnings to a sonically rich sound that is full of depth and detail, Montclair-based Elk City’s soundscapes encompass galaxies while retaining intimate and introspective thoughts and feelings, like epic adventures under the skin. Everybody’s Insecure, the group’s fifth album, will be released by Hoboken-based Bar/None Records on Mar. 16 (look for a Record of the Week here on Mar. 15).

Mainstay Elk City lead vocalist Renée LoBue and drummer-producer Ray Ketchem, who also made up the core of the late, great Melting Hopefuls, are abetted by Luna guitarist Sean Eden, keyboardist Carl Baggaley, bassist Martin Olson and guitarist Chris Robertson. Throughout the album’s recording, Ketchem was building his new studio, Magic Door, having worked with Guided By Voices, Luna, Versus, Chris Mills, Brother JT, and Glenn Morrow’s Cry For Help.

Elk City will celebrate the release of Everybody’s Insecure on Mar. 15 at New York City’s Bowery Electric, but first they’ll play another special show on Feb. 23 opening for James Hunter Six at Maplewood’s Rent Party, an exceptional series of concerts that helps fight hunger by supporting three North Jersey food pantries, maintaining a large community garden on the front lawn of the South Orange Elks that raises fresh produce for those pantries, and providing the BackPack Pals program to about 100 food-insecure school children with a weekend’s worth of nutritious food. - The Aquarian

"HorizonVU Music’s Pick of the Week – New Releases 16 March 2018 – Elk City"

Elk City’s Ray Ketchem (drums) and Renée LoBue (vocals) are back with “Everybody’s Insecure” their first release since 2008. The hypertalented duo have teamed with guitarist Sean Eden, keyboardist Carl Baggeley and bassist Martin Olson. The band has most certainly held on to its brand of eclecticism melting together shades of rock, pop, jazz and a bit of soul. The album earns high marks for both virtuosity and strength with the scale pretty much in balance between the two. Ray Ketchem deserves special recognition for outstanding production work, and one simply cannot overlook (overlisten) Renée LoBue’s extraordinary vocals, which are so essential to the recording’s melodic shapes. “25 Lines” is posted for a listen below, but there are other standout tracks such as “Ride the Slide” and the album’s title track “Everybody’s Insecure”. - Horizon VU Music

"Graded on a Curve: New in Stores, March 2018, Part Four"

Elk City, Everybody’s Insecure (Bar/None) Led by the vocalist Renée LoBue and drummer Ray Ketchem (former bandmates in the Melting Hopefuls), Elk City are back after a long absence (their last one House of Tongues hit in 2010), retaining guitarist Sean Eden while breaking in new keyboardist Carl Baggeley and bassist Martin Olson. Last autumn’s digital cover of The Motels’ “Suddenly Last Summer” announced the return and was an apt choice, as LoBue is a strong, expressive singer, and Ketchem is a noted producer (Guided by Voices, Luna, Versus, the Brother JT album above); opener “Sparrow” could’ve been gussied up and made too fragile, but instead, it and what follows benefits from weight and directness. Amongst the standouts are the sharp “25 Lines” and the intriguing “Root Beer Shoes.” A- - The Vinyl District

"Take the dream-pop exit off the folk-rock highway…next stop, Elk City"

Not from Elk City, Oklahoma (but named after an Elk City in West Virginia, band member Ray Ketchem’s home state), this Elk City is actually based in NYC and has been around since 1997. Their fifth album, Everybody’s Insecure, is due out March 16 on legendary Hoboken label Bar/None Records. A concise collection of ten songs incorporating the best of folk-rock and dream-pop, Everybody’s Insecure glides along on the angelic/sonic vocals of Renee LoBue, the emotional guitar of Sean Eden, and drummer Ketchem’s at-times otherworldly production…all held together with Carl Baggaley’s keyboards and Martin Olson’s bass. They’ve since added another member, guitarist Chris Robertson.

Opening track “Sparrow” kicks off with a perfect post-punk-ish bass line, then soars through the skies with a gorgeous hook and lyric courtesy of LoBue: “I don’t know if I’ll ever be as free as a sparrow / I’ll try, I’ll try, I’ll try.” “He’s Having a Baby” starts out like a lullaby then explodes into a bright, optimistic, jangle-pop gem. “Ride the Slide” is propelled by Baggaley’s electric piano and playful synths. The title cut, “Everybody’s Insecure,” features some unusually-phrased vocals and beautiful, echoey guitars.

“My Manual” tiptoes along, then goes out rockin’, followed by the album’s shining moment, the mysterious and incredibly catchy “25 Lines,“ inspired by a writing exercise whereby LoBue wrote 25 individual, unrelated lines per day, resulting in the song’s cryptic quality. And expect “25 Lines” to be an ‘alternative’ radio hit this spring – it’s that good. Especially the bridge, which has been compared – accurately – to David Bowie. “Root Beer Shoes” name-checks Bukowski and Hemingway before going nearly orchestral, then it’s time for the slow-dance closer, “Souls in Space,” with its sad/happy refrain, “Always together.”

Elk City was originally formed as a spin-off of the Melting Hopefuls, who released a handful of records in the early 90s on various small labels. Ray Ketchem has also worked as a producer/engineer for luminaries like Guided By Voices, Luna, and Okkervil River. The band has appeared at local venues the Mercury Lounge and Bowery Electric, so keep an eye ‘n’ ear out. In the meantime, check out their stunning version of the Motels’ “Suddenly Last Summer” – as well as a nice interview with Renee LoBue on NPR.org, from back when the last Elk City album came out in 2010. - Schizomusica

"Making this Long-Dormant Writer Woke – Elk City’s Fifth “Everybody’s Insecure”"

Written by: Dave Cantrell

Well, prepare yourself because here I go again [clears throat]…Where the sam hell have I been? How long – and why, ffs – has the universe been keeping Elk City from me? [big sigh, shaking of head, the steady bearing down – through a grimace – of pen to paper].

With origins stretching back to the pre-internet early 90’s – their first band, based out of NYC, bore the too-fateful name Melting Hopefuls – core members Renée LoBue and Roy Ketchum (singer/song originator and drummer/producer, respectively) have persisted where others would have faded, their collaboration premised on adaptability, forward motion, and stellar songcraft. Long since renamed Elk City, the band, abetted here by guitarist (and current Luna member) Sean Eden, Carl Baggerly on keys, and bass master Martin Olson, also seem intent on capturing timelessnes – as well a touch of lightning – in a bottle, the tracks on fifth album Everybody’s Insecure displaying the glorious ease of a New Pornographers with the suss and nous of a Field Music.

I mean, I dunno, but skimming through this record – the shrugging pop perfection of opener “Sparrow,” Olson’s bass the most fluid anchor ever, “Ride the Slide”‘s luminous, jazz-tinged indie, the Nyro-shaped echo of the city soulful “What if I Said You Were Dead,” the jaunt and pulse of “25 Lines” whereon the commanding mellifluity of LoBue’s vocals is a highlight-among-highlights, and “Root Beer Shoes,” plangent, Beat-inflected and shiver-inducing – one falls in love with joy’s effect of melancholy while simultaneously feeling lavished by the beauty of this album’s sound. The word for Ketchum’s touch at the console regardless of the mood required, be it poignant plucky pensive or punch-drunk, is ‘lush,’ providing another keen example, if one were needed, of the value a gifted producer brings to the party.

Impeccable, rich, the idiosyncratic anchored by rock-solid arrangements – or the latter loosened by the former, whatever – the playing intuitive, spry and sure in a way we’d expect if the National were mooshed into Steely Dan [and here I express regret for this short piece’s second comparative mash-up; some albums trigger reckless editorial behavior like that], Everybody’s Insecure is, to the unitiated, the kind of sleeper that leaves the listener more woke than could be reasonably expected, not to mention utterly grateful. - Stereo Embers

"In confronting fear of her past, Elk City’s Renée LoBue has written some of her most personal and revealing songs ever"

When Elk City’s Renée LoBue and I started talking back in November 2016 about the songs she had written for the band’s first new album since 2010’s “House of Tongues,” I never imagined the conversation would continue for more than a year before that album materialized.

But it did take that long. And the new collection, “Everybody’s Insecure,” released March 16 on Hoboken’s Bar/None Records, was well worth the wait.

With LoBue’s cooperation and permission, and the help of her longtime collaborator Ray Ketchem, I was able to distill our dialogue over those many months into an article that reveals the difficult personal journey she took to confront and address her past in song.

Read the full interview by CLICKING HERE, on northjersey.com. - Will You Miss Me

"Sur son sixième long format rompant avec huit années de silence, la new yorkaise Renee Lobue et ses compagnons se paient une fraîcheur insolente et signe quelques unes de leurs meilleures compositions."

Fine fleur méconnue de l’indie pop dont les graines ont germé sur les terres rock historiques de Brooklyn à la fin des années 90, Elk City continue pourtant d’éclairer notre existence lorsque tant d’autres de cette époque se sont éteints. La voix renversante de la chanteuse brune et claviériste du groupe, Renee Lobue, joue indubitablement un rôle crucial au sein de cet idylle musical. Une voix que l’on estime à titre personnel parmi les plus vibrante du rock, toutes sphères confondues. Celle-ci nous avait terrassé pour la première fois lors d’un concert donné par le trio voilà près de quinze ans, dans une petite salle de la périphérie parisienne, en première partie de Death Cab For Cutie (belle affiche!). Petit miracle ce soir là, l’esthétique rock lettrée et minimaliste d’un Galaxie 500 avec les harmonies pop de Fleetwood Mac, avaient trouvé sa réincarnation la plus pure.

Dès lors, chaque nouvel album d’Elk City devint pour votre humble visiteur un événement attendu fébrilement, même si les fréquences de sortie de la formation se sont considérablement espacées depuis 2000. Everybody’s Insecure met en effet le terme à un hiatus discographique de huit ans.

Seuls membres de la formation originelle, Renee Lobue et le fidèle complice Ray Ketchem (tous deux ex Melting Hopefuls), forment un duo hors pair, dont les rôles sont chacuns désormais bien définis. Ketchem, batteur, arrangeur et producteur de tous les albums du groupe, est devenu le propriétaire d’un studios d’enregistrement côté dans le New Jersey, Magic Door Recording. Ceci expliquant en partie les longs délais d’attente de ce nouvel album. Quant à Renee Lobue, cette petite brune à la chevelure dense s’est naturellement imposée au fil des albums et comme songwriter principale, à l’écriture empreint d’une poésie introspective qui ne manque pas d’éclats. Evidemment, pas mal d’eau a coulé sous les ponts depuis les débuts du groupe en trio. Elk City est aujourd’hui un sextet, comptant dans ses rangs rien de moins que le génial guitariste Sean Eden, (membre depuis 2005, également de retour au poste chez Luna ), ainsi que le claviériste Carl Baggaley et le bassiste Martin Olson. Un second guitariste, Chris Robertson, a récemment rejoint le line up.

Sur ce sixième opus, Everybody’s Insecure, Renee Lobue mène naturellement la danse. Une danse nocturne que cette marquise de l’indie pop narre à travers ses doutes existentiels et autres regrets lointains. Sur les deux précédents albums, une mélancolie posée (pour ne pas réveiller le vieux cliché de la maturité) prenait un élégant plaisir à contourner les refrains, peut-être par lassitude du format, ou de grossir le trait inutilement. Il se semble que le goût de l’accroche mélodique nerveuse soit revenue, à l’instar de l’énergique, “25 Lines”, où la voix emportée de Lobue électrise (quel verve !). Ce titre pourrait d’ores et déjà prétendre au titre de la meilleure pop song de l’année, et n’aurait pas démériter sur leur premier album Status (sorti à l’époque chez Talitres), manifeste de spontanéité power pop. Autre prétendant potentiel à ce titre, le renversant “He’s Having a Baby”, où la voix s’emporte avec une élégance et une vérité qui n’a toujours que peu d’équivalent.

Sur les tempos ralentis, moultes merveilles sont également à recenser : tel le finale grandiose en lévitation de “What If I Said You Were Dead?” et celui limite shoegazy “My Manual”. Il faut également souligner les superbes contributions de Sean Eden, dont les parties de sa Jazzmaster, claires et voluptueuses, n’auraient pas dépareillées sur le Penthouse de Luna.

Il en résulte une des meilleures collections de chansons de cette formation dont le temps n’a pas éreinter la passion. “Don’t Fight What You’ve Become” chantait avec flamme Renée, quinze ans en arrière. En dépit du temps qui passe, Elk City peut être fier du chemin parcouru. - Pinkushion

"Twirl Radio #818 – Ben Vaughn and Elk City"

Elk City has been around for a very long time, and although they have been described as “art pop”, a better description might be dream pop. The principals are Renée LoBue and Ray Ketchem. Renée writes the songs, and the rest of the band adds their parts and turns them into finished Elk City songs. Their most recent album, Everbody’s Insecure, just released last week and it really hits a lot of my sweet spots. It’s got some 90’s indie pop/alternative sounds in it, some great guitars, and the most personal songwriting to date for the band. The song 25 Lines, my personal favorite on the album, has been a delicious earworm for me for a couple of days. Renée’s vocals can be both muscular and ethereal, and Ray’s production is top notch. This album was mostly recorded live, so there was a lot of immediacy in the band’s contributions. Get yourself acquainted with Elk City at www.facebook.com/elkcityband. - Sound Waves


Premier groupe signé par Talitres (The Apartments, Thousand, Motorama) en 2001, Elk City est de retour aujourd’hui après huit ans de silence avec Everybody’s Insecure.

Talitres réalisa un joli coup avec sa première sortie. Les bordelais avaient plutôt intérêt d’ailleurs… Sans cette sortie, celabel aurait-il eu la capacité de poursuivre l’aventure et de publier tous ces somptueux disques ? Pas sûr !
On retrouve donc avec une certaine émotion les harmonies de Ray Ketchem et la voix de Renee Lobue. Les membres d’Elk City sont des amis de 20 ans. On a l’impression de ne jamais les avoir quittés alors qu’on ne les a pas vus depuis des lustres.

Et ce nouveau disque ? Elk City fait du Elk City comme seul sait faire Elk City. Nos New-Yorkais préférés perpétuent toujours l’héritage de Fleetwood Mac en empruntant les mêmes routes que Grant-Lee Phillips. La voix de Lobue fait toujours des miracles (25 lanes, le meilleur morceau du disque et de l’année pour le moment) et les compositions de Ray nous font toujours penser à celles de Miracle Legion. - Soul Kitchen

"The Tripwire"

There is really something great about a band you're not familiar with suddenly grabbing you within the first couple minutes of an album. It's even better when you can just leave the album on without the urge to switch tracks swelling up. And when the sound of the band is as unassuming as Elk City's, you just feel satisfied. Rarely does their newest, New Believers, reach heights of blow-your-hair-back rock and roll. What it does do is creep right under your skin like an all-encompassing fog, evoking Goosebumps through a nice blend of subtle lounge tunes, a classic female voice, and melodies taking inspiration from every one of the past five decades.

Leading lady Renee LeBue's vocals have been likened by many to Patti Smith and a female David Bowie, both warranted comparisons. At times she sounds fragile, singing with a gentle sway ("Little Brother" "My Type Of Criminal"). Times change though, and that fragile ground gives way. "White Walls" and "Cherries In The Snow" showcase her Bowie-like swagger, where her vocals grow with passionate fervor into a thick croon.

Drummer/producer Ray Ketchum has done a good job in helping to create the overall feel here, bringing in ex-Luna guitarist Sean Eden and ex- Lovelies bassist Barbara Endes to round out the low-key sound. The band's full potential is realized at a few points through the album, rising above quiet haziness. "Totally Free" is a romp and a stomp, and one of the best times you'll have listening to a song so far this year. Nearing a "These Boots Were Made For Walking," or "I Love Rock N Roll" pitch, you might find yourself pumping your fist at some point during its 4:31. And on "You Got Me," the whole family might join in on a '60s pop trip, trying in vain to follow the Beach Boy-inspired harmonies.

My personal favorite of the album though, is "Silver Lawyers," a track that sounds like a dive-bar jukebox. In fact, it would not feel out of place to find Elk City by accident at a local dive, playing through the fog of cigarette smoke and whiskey. With that said, this isn't an album for the second half of the week. It's more of a Tuesday night album. Any way you look at it though, you'll be satisfied.
- Kyle Rother


In the ‘90s, New York’s singer Renee LoBue and drummer Ray Ketchem used up one of their nine rock lives with indiepopsters the Melting Hopefuls, which eventually evolved into Elk City and yielded two albums (2000’s Status; 2002’s Hold Tight). Then another one of those lives got sacrificed when the guitarist abruptly quit. Rather than throw in the towel, though, LoBue and Ketchem woodshedded until the serendipitous arrival of ex-Luna guitarist Sean Eden, and with the addition of bassist Barbara Endes, Elk City had a new lease on, er, life. LoBue’s saucy, blue-tinted vocals—think Sandy Denny meets Patti Smith—are framed here by adventurous, postpunkadelic arrangements, particularly on such tracks as the churning “Totally Free” and the anthemic “Cherries in the Snow” (whose wall-of-sound production, meaty guitars and “la-la-la” vocals lend it an irresistible power-pop vibe). For Elk City, third time—make that third life—is the charm. - Fred Mills

"All Music Guide"

Elk City lost their guitarist/vocalist Peter Langland-Hassan soon after the release of their second record, Hold Tight the Ropes. It was a huge loss, but like any good band Elk City picked itself up, dusted itself off, and snagged a couple of shiny new bandmembers. Well, less along the lines of shiny and new and more along the lines of seasoned and time-tested, as in ex-Luna guitarist Sean Eden and ex-Lovelies bassist Barbara Endes. Things haven't been quite the same in Elk City since they came along. For instance, vocalist Renee LoBue, who stepped into the forefront once Langland-Hassan was out of the picture, reveals herself to sound a heck of a lot like a cross between Chrissie Hynde and Patti Smith. The band has dropped the Neil Young-ish twang that characterized their first two albums -- they sound tougher, savvier, more glam, not only drawing from Smith and the Pretenders but Kate Bush, David Bowie, and even Iggy Pop. And, with the exception of a few missteps, they sound better than ever. LoBue has come into her own on this album -- the cloying indie wispiness that characterized her earlier work (both in Elk City and Melting Hopefuls) has been stripped away, revealing pure muscle. She sounds practically warrior-like on the stompy, tart-sweet first track, "Cherries in the Snow," and manages to pull off a practically Bowie-esque croon on reflective tracks like "Silver Lawyers" and "Nighttime." "Los Cruzados" might be the best track on the album -- LoBue's mournful, liquid vocals are haunting and exultant on the song's refrain of "Hallelujah, hallelujah." LoBue only runs into trouble when she lapses into the saccharine, stilted sing-songiness of the opening to "The Magic Door" -- it sounds like an artifact of the band's previous self, so it sounds somewhat flatfooted standing next to the rest of the tracks. If fans can move past soggy moments like this, not to mention get past the fact that Elk City no longer sounds like a Crazy Horse revival band, they'll find a lot to believe in on this release. - Margaret Reges


It’s unclear from the group’s recent history if Elk City is now officially a quartet for good, but let’s hope so. On its first three liked (if not particularly high-profile) albums, the Brooklyn trio’s style was perhaps most notable for its boy-girl dueting, a la the Submarines. But guitarist/vocalist Peter Langland-Hassan’s departure made that dynamic a thing of the past. If there’s one hangover from those days call it a call-and-response ideal, the male vocals traded for a guitar or keyboard line. The group’s swelled, though, with a couple of seasoned musicians—Sean Eden from Luna and Barbara Endes from the Lovelies—who help imbue the group with a new life and purpose.

That hangover of the old Elk City is a faint thread not so much sustaining as propelling New Believers. It comes in two aspects, one thematic and one musical. Musically, the band treads between poppy indie-rock and dreamy, organ-driven balladry, reminding me of a number of recent indie faves (most notably Camera Obscura). Singer/songwriter Renee LoBue’s vocals are very of-the-moment, and bring the band in line with this breathy chanteuse-driven sound that’s really increased in popularity over the last few years. The success of Feist, Laura Viers, Regina Spektor and the like may be telling us it’s ok, now, to turn finally away from noise as a defining feature or indie music—or rather, that what we used to classify as ‘alternative’ has become much more mainstream. A musical market shattered into fragments of otherwise straightforward pop discovered in digital backwoods.

But I digress. One of the interesting things about New Believers is a very adult type of optimism. It’s neither born of innocence or the type of deep, almost disturbingly confessional openness of Fryda Hyvonen, but something in LoBue’s voice communicates despite-everythingness. What I mean is, the inflections, though they can mirror a child’s, seem to say: despite everything we’ve been through, it’s going to be OK. So on “You Got Me”, a honky-tonk, trotting number, when the chorus tells us “When there are showers we’ll laugh them away”, we believe it. It’s the same on “Totally Free”, one of the album’s standouts, where “keep a smile on your face” never seems patronizing or blithe. Rather, over a slow, menacing bass riff and fuzzy guitar background, the result is carefree and celebratory—a great combination, and one that would not be expected from one of the more pop-focused female indie acts grabbing headlines at the moment.

One characteristically Elk City thing is melody construction: tiny two-bar or four-bar phrases are stitched together in an apposition that you wouldn’t necessarily expect. It’s a point of interest and a limitation. On more upbeat numbers like “Cherries in the Snow”, it works well, providing an effective vehicle for the song’s propellant bass. But on the more stripped-back numbers, like second track “Little Brother”, the repetitive melodic snippets are exposed for what they are: potential un-capitalized. You might be tempted to label this a symptom of hyperactivity, musically, but songs like “Nighttime” and “Melody” prove otherwise. The former is a single mood, statically beautiful and languid. The latter sunny ‘60s pop, slowly disintegrating until each pause in the phrase “melody, leave me alone” makes you think the song is ending—three times in a row. It’s a neat piece of songwriting which highlights how, when done well, the call-and-response form still has legs to support innovation.

New Believers is not without its missteps—the closing track “Magic Door” is overly simplistic, and gives a false note of childishness to the album’s farewell—but overall, the patent optimism and unironic enjoyment of traditional rock forms is quite refreshing. On “My Type of Criminal”, LoBue asks us to “let her in”; on “You Got Me” she justifies, “You got me and it’s all you need this time.” Who are we to argue? - Dan Raper


Rock'n'roll's collective memory is short -- real short. So when Elk City spent five years between albums, the New York outfit might as well count on the world forgetting it.

Maybe that's for the best. Not that the band's first two albums are anything to shake a stick at -- the glistening art-pop had a certain affinity for Mazzy Star and dream-pop ambiances that made it a name record-collectors, music buffs and the most dedicated pop disciple would be proud to drop. It's just that in five years, a lot's changed for Elk City. It lost its founding guitarist, Peter Langland-Hassan, who was replaced by Luna guitarist Sean Eden. The trio picked up a bassist, Barbara Endes, and let chemistry run its course.

After Eden and singer/songwriter Renee LoBue pooled their talents, Elk City quickly became something entirely different than New York popsters may remember. Gone are the smears of artsy pop, as LoBue, mines her guitarist's defection for every ounce of soul it's worth. Most of New Believers centers around themes of loss, betrayal and loneliness borne from Langland-Hassan's sudden departure from the band. Gone are the days of relatively carefree boy/girl pop, as Elk City ventures into an era designed to milk LoBue's soulful delivery. "Totally Free" features a vocal track with the bursting-at-the-seams vigor of those Donna Summers tracks that turn up on every disco compilation, though Eden's shivering guitars pull the band into a world somewhere midway between Luna and The Smiths. Eden lets LoBue steal the spotlight on "Cherries in the Snow," with jangle-pop guitar work letting her rich, soulful delivery carry the track. "My Type of Criminal" settles further into soul, with a low-light organ arrangement whirring to give LoBue's aching vocals just enough mood. "White Walls" and "Nighttime" find low-key arrangements that whisk through guitar and keyboard arrangements, respectively, as LoBue finds that calm, almost serene, sense of longing that only a born soul-slinger can achieve.

New Believers is a fresh start for Elk City. A start where LoBue's bottomless supply of heart leads the band into new worlds where indie pop and soul effortlessly overlap. Maybe we shouldn't fret over the band's previous incarnation falling into the mists of the underground's iffy memory when the new Elk City's so much more engaging. - Matt Schild

"Paper Thin Walls"

Audacious bell strikes, uncomplicated drumming, perfect girl-rock vocals, a perfect pop song. With their third release New Believers, the NYC-based band finally holds the awkward honor of being a buzz-worthy blog fave, likely due to their referential style that is so heavily derivative it comes out the other end as progressively fresh. Their influences are a highbrow blend of classic indie (the Breeders, Pixies) and spot-on pre-Motown pop production, all firmly anchored by Renée LoBue’s full and vibrant vocals. Unlike the tracks on the rest of the album, which are less bombastic and don’t feel as indulgent, this song straddles the border between authentic rocker and guilty pleasure. There’s the issue of open-ended lyrics that are kind of inane, but so inanely simple they become embedded in your subconscious within seconds: “Cherries in the snow/Cherries when you blow/Don't whither.” Plus, it sounds suspiciously like it could follow the Rembrants on a mid-’90s mixtape. Yet it's irresistible—its predictability is what makes it so damn catchy. Their every move is telegraphed, each one an familiar trope from ’60s girl groups or ’90s girl rock—from the harmonized ooh-la-la-las, to the hi-hat taps, to the jangly guitar solo—but the combination at least makes it feel new, if only for that all-important three minutes.

Lead singer Renée LoBue and guitarist Ray Ketchum of Elk City on “Cherries In The Snow”

What do you mean by "cherries" in this song?
Renée LoBue: “Cherries In The Snow” is really an abstract song about going for yours. I want everyone to go for it: The golden ring, the big love, money bags, shiny shoes, annoyingly white smiles, patent leather socks. You have to do what you do. Own your desires. Be proud of them.

The sound is so polished, it must have taken forever to record. How did you know when you were finished?
Ray Ketchum: The devil is in the details. I mix and mix and mix until everyone says "done" and then I try a few more ideas. This record was recorded discontinuously over a two-year period with a lot of friends getting involved. We had just finished a noisy, long-winded psychedelic record that was shelved (for now) and we were inspired to try our hand at some pop and even soul. Renee wrote some incredible songs. The songs inspired me to keep pushing the productions further.

As an indie band with pop sensibilities, how do you feel about mainstream entertainment co-opting the indie sound?
Ketchum: Indie bands have to try any outlet possible to be heard. No one buys CDs now, so having a song included in a TV show or movie is one way that a band can make some money and keep doing what they do. I pray someone calls us and says they want to use “Cherries” for their TV theme song!
LoBue: Note to Revlon: Please call me about “Cherries in the Snow!”

Any other notes on the song?
LoBue: We've been amazed by how much children love “Cherries In The Snow!” So many people have told us that their kids—and babies—love the song! - FAITH HALE - Faith Hale

"Gorilla vs. Bear"

Have any of you guys heard this new Elk City record? Our initial reaction was "Hey, this sort of has a '60s girl-group-meets-the-Pixies feel," which in fact sounds much better on record than on paper. Turns out the Village Voice thinks that frontwoman Renee LoBue sounds "like a female Bowie engaged in a three-way with Hope Sandoval and Patti Smith," which may or may not be more accurate than our thing. Either way, "Los Cruzados" is irresistible. - Chris


NYC-based Elk City are based about the talents of Renée LoBue. The talents are considerable and are matched by the musicianship of ex-Luna guitarist Sean Eden and ex- Lovelies bassist Barbara Endes, along with longtime Elk City member, Ray Ketchem (drummer/producer). This Tuesday sees the release of a work that the two core members have been at work on for nearly three years, New Believers (Friendly Fire Recordings). This doesn't surprise me as the great song, "Cherries in The Snow", has been known to me for quite a while now. I know I found it in a slightly different version while online at least two years ago, it may have been an unmastered version and the guitar solo is more urgent in this version. This is the kind of song that will grab you, it stands out in the crowd thanks to the amazing mesh of Lobue's vocal, the lyrics, and the production. - Alan Williamson

"Three Imaginary Girls"

Elk City's moody, dreamy pop sensibility makes for a serene and fulfilling listening experience. Though the songs on New Believers have structure, the band takes risks and lives outside of the box, resulting in an album that is respectable, genuine, and exquisite.

The booming, melodramatic songs sound like the soundtrack to a love-drunk evening spent in a dark, smoke-filled lounge, martini in hand. "Cherries In the Snow," the opener, seems poised to be a "single" — it's on the band's MySpace player, it's the free download available through Insound, and it's even set to appear on an upcoming TIG AstroPop Podcast — but somehow it's a strange choice to represent this album. It's a striking, PJ Harvey-flavored song, but it's more aggressive and less romantic than the majority of the album, so don't let it be your only impression of New Believers. As the album moves on it introduces more fluid, lovely melodies with subtle but effective instrumentation.

Singer and songwriter Renée LoBue has a captivating voice that's both soothing and alluring. Her soft vocal deliveries make for an effortlessly organic sound. At times it calls to mind the White Stripes songs on which Meg sings — stark and honest — though with more soul. It's also not surprising that Elk City member Sean Eden was formerly with Luna, as Elk City's sound has a similar dreamy quality.

One of the strongest moments comes in the transition between track six, "Totally Free," and track seven, "You Got Me." The former is a sultry semi-ballad with LoBue's vocals echoing while male harmonies back her up on the title words. The song ultimately erupts in feedback-y guitars before dropping off. "You Got Me" is an up-tempo piano-led throwback to early-'60s girl pop. As the first segways into the second, they are the ultimate contrast and yet they complement each other lavishly. In fact, Elk City's songs are all stylistically unique.

"Silver Lawyers," "My Type of Criminal," and "Nighttime" are the slower numbers on the album, each lovely and serene. The recording has an airy or spacious quality to it, a la Radiohead. Band member Ray Ketchem produced, recorded, and mixed the album, and he clearly understood LoBue's vision for these songs, creating exactly the right mix and allowing them their breathing room. "Cherries in the Snow" and "White Walls" are more rock 'n' roll, with lots of electric guitar. LoBue sounds a bit like Debbie Harry, especially the more recent, matured version. The remaining songs fall somewhere in between, always delivering on Elk City's promise to keep things sonically interesting. Also contributing heavily to the stunning sound is the instrument choices — pedal steel, dobro, and Hammond organ all appear, adding subtle nuances.

All in all, New Believers is a solid and compelling album that will stay in heavy rotation on my iPod. - Betsy Boston

"Village Voice"

If CMJ is really about discovering great bands, than this is the show to see. Elk City mix the likes of the Pretenders with classic Motown, and then layer the top with just a dusting of '80s new wave. Frontwoman Renee LoBue's voice is astounding—she has incredible range and sounds like a female Bowie engaged in a three-way with Hope Sandoval and Patti Smith. And of the band's latest batch of songs (a polished, as-of-yet unreleased full-length tentatively titled New Believers), at least half of them are perfect pop gems. - Ken Switzer


2018 - Everybody's Insecure

2010 - House Of Tongues

2007 - New Believers

2002 - Hold Tight the Ropes

2001 - The Sea is Fierce EP

2000 - Status



Elk City’s soundscapes encompass galaxies while retaining intimate and introspective thoughts and feelings, like epic adventures under the skin. Everybody’s Insecure, the group’s fifth album, was released by Bar/None Records on March 16, 2018. 

Collaboration is at the core of every great band, and Elk City’s lead vocalist Renée LoBue and drummer/producer Ray Ketchem are two people ready to strap themselves into wet suits, climb into the immersion tank and get the job done. This pair is ably abetted by guitarist Sean Eden (Luna) and extraordinary keyboardist Carl Baggaley. Elk City has just welcomed guitarist Chris Robertson and bassist Richard Baluyut (Versus) into their line-up

Throughout the album’s recording, Ketchem was building his new studio, Magic Door, a gorgeous, good-vibes HQ for musical expression and experimentation in the center of Montclair, NJ’s arts community. Far from the humble beginnings of his first dank basement studio, Ray has become a sought-after producer/engineer, working with Guided By Voices, Okkervil River, Luna and Brother JT. 

While writing Everybody's Insecure, LoBue presented her songs using late-night voice recordings she’d sung in a ghostly, whispered warble. The band would listen intently, then come up with instrumentation ideas, chord structures and tempos while Ray kept the recorders rolling - driven by his goal of capturing the creative spark at its most luminous. Every track on Everybody’s Insecure is actually built upon those very first impressions. Session after session, Ray went to work using an arsenal of studio wizardry, mining and combining, stretching and condensing, manipulating and re-amplifying sounds, building sub mixes and adding new instruments until the final mastered version is a spit-shined sonic delight, ripe for the memory box.

There's the atmospheric reach-for-the-stars feel of “Souls In Space,” and a discussion with someone about the positive effect of imagining them dead: “The thought of you in the ground or maybe your ashes all over town…there’s so much sunshine in my mouth…oh there is sweet music!” Perhaps the most succinctly introspective song is the opening track “Sparrow,” in which Renée turns the lasers on herself and contemplates the desire to flee one's own personal demons by turning them into art—"I don’t know if I’ll ever be as free as a sparrow. I'll try.”

In her lyrics, Renée is able to take the stuff of everyday life and add a layer of magic to the proceedings. Her songs often take the form of a conversation, as she finds intriguing entry points into relationships much more nuanced than boy meets girl; her lyrics might observe the woman who meets the man who's having a baby with someone else or finding trust and admiration for a guy with the sense to be wearing a pair of root beer-colored shoes.

Renée and Ray originally met through musician’s wanted ad. Their first band, Melting Hopefuls, released a single, album and EP, then broke up when a deal with Mercury Records fell apart when the label’s management abruptly changed, with their label debut already in the can.

Rather than falter, LoBue and Ketchem set out to re-build their band. They found a new guitarist and co-lead vocalist and forged a new sound with a new name: Elk City. They signed with a French imprint, released the albums status and Hold Tight The Ropes and supported them with incessant European touring, playing venues large and small with groups like The National, The Walkmen and Luna; this is when they first met future bandmate Eden. After a major shake-up in personnel, they released two more albums, New Believers (their best seller to date) and House of Tongues and returned abroad for yet more extensive touring. Then, the group took a break from performing live and instead concentrated on gathering at Ketchem’s studio to breathe life into LoBue’s cutting words and melodies. Everybody's Insecure was the result.

So drop the needle into the grooves and float down the mysterious rotating streets of Elk City. Let Ray, Renée and their merry bunch of music makers be your guide. It’s time to step through the Magic Door.