Everything Absent or Distorted (a love story)
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Everything Absent or Distorted (a love story)


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"Discovering the Undiscovered"

http://blog.filter-mag.com/filter/2007/07/discovering-t-2.html - Filter Magazine

"Reverb Review"

There are a few things you can count on with Everything Absent or Distorted, the Denver indie rock outfit that sports as many members as the Brady Bunch (minus that useless housekeeper Alice). One is the utter crush of humanity that surrounds it. Even if a show is sparsely attended, having eight members on stage ensures a sweaty, communal vibe, the guys bouncing around like high schoolers at a particularly kick-ass talent show where the adults all went to bed.

Another, unsurprisingly, is a lot of noise. The guitars, tambourines, horns, accordion, banjo, keyboards and vocals twist into great columns of melody, somehow finding their own niche frequencies before servicing the greater structure.

One thing you can't always count on, however, is a note-perfect performance, which makes sense considering that some of the band's biggest influences (Guided by Voices, Neutral Milk Hotel) were well-known for brilliant songwriting and erratic live shows. EAOD has as much roiling punk enthusiasm as it does nerdy indie rock mojo, it just doesn't always seem that way.

Fortunately, the band's headlining concert at the Bluebird Theater on Wednesday delivered everything good about EAOD in addition to an exceedingly tight, impassioned performance. As noted, the group sometimes seems more concerned with communicating emotion than technical perfection, and that's not a bad thing. If you've been to six EAOD shows, chances are half of them ended with you wringing equal amounts of beer and sweat from your ironic T-shirt.

But the Bluebird show, which featured Needlepoint Records cohorts Thank God for Astronauts and cellist Ian Cooke as openers, cast the band as a honed, refueled machine ready to tear 2007 a gaping exit strategy. EAOD played a host of new songs, covers, and familiar anthems from its The Soft Civil War EP with equal tightness, proving how far it's come since debuting early last year.

EOAD arrived in typical fashion, filtering on stage and donning instruments with a slightly tipsy good nature. I've written about the band more than any other in Denver, so there's not much new to say in the way of perfomance or songwriting (energetic, melodic, galvanizing, frequent flashes of brilliance). The confidence and adeptness the band exhibits with leading the crowd into its world is impressive. Fist-pumping tracks like Bureau of Yards and Docks and Closer Than You Think Pt. 1 sounded as invigorating as ever, their jumpy cadences inciting a good deal of pogoing.

The handful of new tracks betrayed ever-expanding horizons, particularly Featherbeads in a Bomb Shelter, which found EAOD pulling an Arcade Fire and descending en masse into the audience for an all-acoustic performance with Shawn King of local heroes DeVotchKa. You can get a grainy sense of the it here by scrolling down through the Comments section, but suffice to say, the live experience was infinitely better.

John Kuker and Bryce Merrill's melancholy harmonies during the chorus, and the overall use of plinked banjo, acoustic strumming and languid, sepia-toned brass gave the song a future-classic feel. EAOD plans to take some time off during the next few months so its members can travel and focus on their personal lives, but if last week's show was any indication, we can expect another stellar year from this rising collective that seems to be doing everything right, all the time.
: - John Wenzel

"Love Cats- Everything Absent or Distorted Kisses and Tells"

EAOD's debut disc, The Soft Civil War, is a celebration of small, everyday battles concentrated into a fleeting seven songs. Channeling the giddy yet meticulous detail and bright eccentricity of Elephant 6 in its heyday...Not that the band is out cutting throats to become Denver's next big rock revelation: In fact, the've subtitled their own band "A Love Story" - and, as with all great pop composers, they mean it. - The Onion

"All Players are Created Equal"

Imagine the potential mayhem of a leaderless band. Who helms the ship through the inevitably choppy disputes? Who collects and distributes the cash after gigs? And who is the lead singer?

Denver-based indie rock collective Everything Absent or Distorted could not care less. Its seven members see themselves as a democratic collective, sustained more by chemistry than a singular artistic vision or iron-fisted captain.

"There's no guiding influence," said Jody Pilmer, who switches among guitar, drums and bass. "No one in the band has a stronghold on what we're doing. It's more the way we all work together."

The group, which will release its new album, "The Soft Civil War," at the Hi-Dive on Saturday, sports a pair of lead singers: Bryce Merrill and John Kuker. Still, even those two frequently trade instruments, giddily mixing guitar, drums, bass and synthesizer. Drummer Trevor Trumble then picks up the guitar and contributes to the vocals, while Ryan Stubbs switches from bass to keyboards, the whole outfit barely pausing to take a breath.

In concert, Everything Absent or Distorted recalls a late-'90s Elephant Six, that hallowed indie collective that included Denver's Dressy Bessy, the now-expatriated Apples in Stereo and acts like Of Montreal and Neutral Milk Hotel. The bizarre, unself-conscious glee in their performances intoxicated otherwise dour hipsters.

Similarly, EAOD erases the line between audience and performer with its capricious, cathartic sets. Andy Maher rocks out on his banjo and accordion as if possessed by a sweaty, good-natured demon. The guys aren't afraid to bare their emotions in their lyrics or on stage, but they're too talented to devolve into earnest emo-pop.

And they come up with stunts such as inviting 45 friends to dress in pink and show up at a graveyard for a photo shoot. "We're trying to subvert (the idea) of the collective," said Merrill, who plays guitar and bass besides singing. "But we're not doing it for subversion's sake. There's a tension in the band, but our legitimation comes from writing and playing together."

The current EAOD lineup, if you can believe it, is more focused than its late 2004 genesis, a basement act that featured anywhere from 10 to 13 members. The guys initially met through friends and Craigslist ads, their parallel sensibilities quickly emerging.

"To sit here and say we don't care what anyone else thinks of us would be disingenuous," said Merrill, "but what addicts me to this band is genuinely appeasing and impressing the six other people around me."

Like the cover art of pink-clad friends dancing in a graveyard, the music on "The Soft Civil War" is at once bittersweet and creepily comforting. The Decemberists and the Arcade Fire act as reference points on songs such as "The Exit Parade" and "Bureau of Yards and Docks." Melodic choruses bleed into triumphant full-on rock bridges. "Closer Than You Think Pt. 1" even splits the difference between Jeff Mangum and Paul Westerberg, its Guided by Voices-influenced chords rumbling with a delightful mid-fi fuzz.

"Our new stuff is a bit more orchestrated as opposed to collaged," said Joe Grobelny, who plays trombone, guitar and bass. "But it's almost to the point of clutter on stage."

One can't help but feel these guys almost prefer it that way, their contributions feeding EAOD's sound without regard for individual recognition.
"There is an archetype for rock 'n' roll bands where one person does something and everyone follows, and what keeps me up at night is utter gut-wrenching dread that we'll slip into that," said Merrill. "We are guilty of buying way too far into what we do."

True as that may be, Denver sorely needs more bands like this - confident and talented without settling for complete self-satisfaction.

- The Denver Post

"CD Reviews"

The Soft Civil War (Needlepoint)

There's something irresistibly exuberant about Everything Absent or Distorted's debut EP (or "rock novella," as the band cheekily calls it), almost as if it's riddled with one of those totally intangible, lightning-in-a-bottle qualities that too few acts capture on disc, let alone on the concert stage.

Billing itself less as a band than a collective, the Denver-based septet employs horns, keyboards, rumbling bass, handclaps and chugging electric guitars, not to mention the occasional memorable turn of phrase ("It's too hot for murder/Let's go to the creek instead").

At just 20 minutes long, The Soft Civil War is a bounding, almost giddy offering of tunes that portends great things to come for this bunch, and should position Everything Absent or Distorted as a serious challenger to the impeccable Hot IQs in Denver's indie-pop sweepstakes.
- Boulder Daily Camera

"Come Home"

Things have been really busy lately. Normally, as fall approaches, you kind of expect things to slow down. The weather is supposed to cool off and everyone prepares to shutter up for the winter. Spring is the busy time, right? Not that fall. The only thing I should be busy doing is gathering nuts, like a good little ant. Clearly, that's not the case. At times like this it's nice to have something good to listen to. Thankfully, we have Everything Absent Or Distorted -- who holds the distinction of being the only band from Denver, Colorado posted to Robots. So there.

See, back in the 1990s, there was a surplus of band geeks who wanted to be in real bands. This gave birth to Ska and Swing. Since the coolest "rock" instrument you can handle in high school band is pretty much the drums (or cowbell), and things like guitar and bass are saved for "jazz band," you have this clutch of horn players with nowhere to go. But now that Ska is dead - or at least the poppy, late '90s variety is - what are the horn players to do? Where are the seven-strong bands chock full of quirks?

Well, in Denver they're packing into Everything Absent or Distorted. With seven full-time members - none of whom stick to one role for any given song - they have their share of horn players, percussionists, singers, crooners, guitar slingers and the lot. It's a fantastic band, and I love their new record: The Soft Civil War. It ranges from bombastic pop like this, to full on punk rattles. Even though it's only got seven songs on it, it covers a lot of ground. They seem to really know what they're doing.

You can pick up their new album from the friendly folks at twist and shout. Highly Recommended.

- Music For Robots

"Best of 2006: Music"

The most challenging, original records of the year are seldom my favorite. I respect artistic innovation as much as the next music critic, but give me something I can listen to on a road trip, a stroll through City Park or a quiet night at home. Here are the albums of 2006 that never left my CD player or iPod earbuds:

1. "Anti-Anti," Snowden: Better known for its math rock and pseudo-orchestral acts, Jade Tree dropped this criminally ignored melodic bomb in late August. This Atlanta band effortlessly transforms its Cure, Interpol and Modest Mouse influences into a surprisingly anthemic, eyeshadow-free entity.

2. "Everything All the Time," Band of Horses: Just when you thought Sub Pop couldn't possibly top itself, along comes Band of Horses. Sure, they're hopelessly indebted to Built to Spill, Neil Young and My Morning Jacket, but former Carissa's Wierd members Bed Bridwell and Matthew Brooke nearly tear the heartstrings off with propulsive guitar stompers like "Funeral" and "Our Swords."

3. "You in Reverse," Built to Spill: We scoffed when these indie rock torchbearers issued the mediocre "Ancient Melodies of the Future," but "You in Reverse" easily makes up for it. More than a return to form, it's an affirmation of the life-changing possibilities of Doug Martsch's mercurial songwriting gifts.

4. "The Information," Beck: Our favorite closet Scientologist will never make another "Odelay," so get over it. "The Information" is the real Beck, an artist masking his increasing paranoia and anger beneath a plastic, childlike exterior of synth samples, languid acoustic guitar and brilliant lyrics.

5. "Passover," The Black Angels: Few bands can do psychedelic rock without sounding foolish or retro, so when this Austin, Texas, juggernaut stormed the castle with "Passover," the underground music world gasped. Weak comparisons to The Doors or The Velvet Underground were all that most people could utter with their mouths so agape.

6. "The Soft Civil War," Everything Absent or Distorted: This Denver collective has no right to be as good as it is. And yet its goofy horns, plucked banjo, crunchy guitars and crisp drumming propel them into the upper echelons of 2006 releases. Somehow they're even better live.

7. "Return to Cookie Mountain," TV on the Radio: This Brooklyn quintet actually justifies its critical hype. Their high-pressure sophomore effort continues the trend toward brilliantly dystopian love songs and apocalyptic national hymns. Join them in their somber toast as the world burns through the window.

8. "The Greatest," Cat Power: As annoying as her personality is, only a fool could deny Chan Marshall's soulful, honey-soaked voice. Here she joins with a Memphis sessions band for a Southern-friend excursion into her bluesy roots.

9. "Self-Propelled," Bright Channel: Who could have imagined that not recording with Steve Albini was this Denver's trio's best move? The raw, face-melting distortion they wring from their guitars could only have been captured in their home studio in Denver. If you think unearthly pleasures don't exist in the local scene, think again.

10. "Blues and Boogie Shoes," Keene Brothers: Every so often Bob Pollard releases an album that reminds us why we loved him, and here the former Guided by Voices leader has found a foil on par with Tobin Sprout or Doug Gillard. Tommy Keene, an underrated songwriter and axe man for Paul Westerberg and Velvet Crush, is his new secret weapon.

- The Denver Post (see #6)

"Westy gets the mail"

Everything Absent or Distorted
The Soft Civil War (EP)

The last time anyone at sea level gave a toss about indie rock from Denver, it was during the brief reign of the Elephant 6 collective, a bunch of groups that liked the Beach Boys and flugelhorns and hardly any of whom made it past a second album. Maybe they all should have been in one band instead of forming a collective. That's the approach taken by Everything Absent or Distorted, a seven-piece with multiple lead singers and songwriters. While the use of instruments like trombone, banjo, and accordion in addition to guitars on The Soft Civil War recalls E6-ers Neutral Milk Hotel, it would be inaccurate to call it a direct progression. Other than the rather ponderously Aeroplane-aping "Buried in Guitar," EAOD do a nice job of marrying 90's indie songwriter weirdness with 80's arena-rock immediacy. Masses of rhythm guitars and New Order drumbeats give the EP a movement-friendliness that's rare for music this intellectual, especially on "The Exit Parade" and the mini-suite opener, "Still Life with Machine Gun." Just when you think you've got the band pigeonholed, they bust out with "Closer Than You Think, Pt. 1," which begins by stealing the riff from a GbV song then wobbles into a folk-punk stomper that sounds for all the world like Joe Strummer fronting the Pogues. The self-consciously grad student feel of the lyrics comes across as equal parts fabulous and precious, so consider yourself warned. Highly recommended, and it's available on iTunes (cheap!) so you've got no good excuse not to check it out.
http://www.eaod.net - nudeasthenews.com

"Concert Review"

Everything Absent or Distorted

Denver's music scene has enjoyed an explosion of hyperactivity as the slumped-

shouldered indie rock of the '90s has given way to exuberant spectacles of song and dance. Few people would argue this is a bad thing, especially when it leads to acts like Everything Absent or Distorted.

The Denver group's Bluebird Theater set June 1 felt like a joyous reunion, as the band's seven members switched instruments (drums, guitar, keyboard, banjo, horns) and singing duties with aplomb. Half the band looked dressed up for a job interview at a law firm, while the other half seemed to have stumbled out an Urban Outfitters' dressing room.

During Guided by Voices-influenced songs like "The Exit Parade," or the house-shaking cover of Neutral Milk Hotel's "Holland, 1945," the members belted out their respective parts while flailing and pogoing around the stage. The display felt wonderfully unselfconscious, if a bit filtered through a few of the members' Buddy Holly glasses. Denver needs more bands like this.|John Wenzel - The Denver Post

"Needlepoint Records"

EAOD create ephereal songs with fuzzy, electronic backgrounds (compareable to those of Explosions in the Sky) and fronted with an impressive ensemble of horns, banjos, accordions, guitar, and synthesizers. This band lists Elephant 6 bands such as Apples In Stereo and Neutral Milk Hotel as some of their influences, and end up with a sound often compared to The Arcade Fire. Their music is immediately bittersweet and mesmerising, with some of the songs vivid enough to give me goosebumps if I listen too closely.

- Catching Signals (blog)


The Soft Civil War



Everything Absent or Distorted is a love story. EAOD meshes a consortium of seemingly nonsensical instruments, including trombone, multiple synthesizers, accordion, banjo, drums, violin, bass and as many guitars as possible to create what has been described as "apocalyptic bubble gum."

The band's first record, The Soft Civil War, was released in 2006. TSCW broke the top 100 on the CMJ 200 and was the number one record for several
weeks at a handful of radio stations. Nic Harcourt (KCRW) also gave the record several spins on Morning Becomes Eclectic. By year's end, The Soft
Civil War found itself on numerous "best of" lists, including The Denver Post, The Boulder Weekly, Westword, The Onion, numerous blogs, The Village
Voice, and Idolator. They were also a CMJ Spotlight Artist in 2007.

Their latest full-length record, The Great Collapse, was released in December of 2008, with a national radio campaign beginning February 3, 2009. The album has already achieved critical acclaim from every major news outlet in Denver. Heather Browne of the blog "I am Fuel/You are Friends" featured the record during her interview with NPR's David Dye, and a song from TGC will be aired during World Café's best of 2008 broadcast.

EAOD has performed at music festivals in the southwest, including a performance on the main stage at Red Rocks for the inaugural Monolith festival. They have opened for Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Ghostland
Observatory, The Decemberists, and the Rosebuds, to name just a few. The band is known for its live shows and consistently draws capacity crowds at large theaters and small rock clubs.