north elementary
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north elementary

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The best kept secret in music

Press


"Possibilities"

Someone to show us the possibilities,
not the constraints of the genre. One
such band is North Elementary.
- Americana UK


"Sonicly Rich"

Totally devoted to the song and
everything around it, planting major chord melodies in the most sonically rich soil he can find and letting them grow into sprawling operettas.
- Indepenent Weekly


"Writer David Menconi"

“Excellent, lovely, and highly recommended.” - contributing writer


"Greatest Band in the World"

Listed as one of The Greatest Bands in the Whole Freaking World. The song “Golden Tigers” is a “stand out track” on JANE magazine’s Spring 2006 Compilation Album - JANE magazine


"Brighten the Day"

Bad Weather Music: North Elementary will brighten the day

One element that heralds the coming of summer is the advent of those late-afternoon, early-evening thunderstorms, bringing in a downpour of rain and insufferable humidity. Sometimes I sit on my front porch, watch the clouds come rolling in, and listen to music. Hailing from Chapel Hill, NC, North Elementary's lo-fi sound and laid-back vocals offer the perfect accompaniment to any summer thunderstorm.

Comprised of John Harrison, Kuki Kooks, Holly Lowman and Ryan Lee Dunlap, it's easy to assume the band was raised on a steady diet of The Flaming Lips and Yo La Tengo, but upon further listening, one can discern a dash of Belle and Sebastian and a pinch of Grandaddy as well.

All aforementioned bands share a commonality: hushed yet strong voices, both powerful and intense. North Elementary's lead man, Harrison, easily channels Stuart Murdoch (B&S) and Jason Lytle (Grandaddy). At times the addition of Lowman's accompanying vocals lends their sound an otherworldly feel, bringing to mind the harmonies of an angelic serenade.

The vast array of sounds the band offers on each song—alternately loud and soft acoustic, and electric guitar, piano, banjo and organ, male and female harmonizing—risk overwhelming and drowning the listener in noise. However, in the talented hands of the members of North Elementary, the experience is as refreshing as a summer afternoon rain shower. As light and as airy as they come across, North Elementary are not ones to skimp lyrically. In "You Have a Heart," they sing: "I'll trade you friendship for a pocket watch if you have the time/I never thought a chronograph would measure something that was never mine/You have a heart that wants everything."

The listener is left to ponder first what exactly a chronograph is, then the meaning of such lines. Caustic remark? Wishful sentiment? Half the fun lies in trying to interpret such gems, which are interspersed among simpler fare like in "Lose Your Favorite Things": "I want the sun to shine/down to this face of mine/it's where I'd like you to be." It's not all sunshine and rainbows, however; the band tackles dark themes such as death, and in "Chemicals," the negative repercussions of drug addiction.

No matter the subject, North Elementary bring their craft to a whole new level, finely tuning each song to indie-pop perfection. The band possesses the rare ability to change their sound at each song without losing their identity in the process. With such versatility, every listener's bound to find something valuable. - Encore Magazine


"Songcraft is Songcraft"

Chapel Hill, N.C.'s North Elementary members sound as if they spent their formative years listening to a steady diet of The Flaming Lips, wilco, Death Cab for Cutie and Yo La Tengo. But like most worthy bands in today's indie landscape, this talented sextet balances densely layered guitars and keyboards and crashing drum and bass punctuations with whisper-quiet, carefully drawn acoustic moments, as if to tell the listener that songcraft is songcraft; a good song is a good song, no matter the volume, delivery, intensity or instrumentation. The result is a lo-fi masterpiece that is highly sophisticated, undeniably original, slightly risky and thoroughly enjoyable... - Dominion Post


"DTH review of Berandals"

Local's latest a comfort
By: Bryan Reed, Senior Writer
5/17/07

North Elementary
Berandals
3.5 stars

The type of music that earns a spot on a list of personal favorites is the type that works its way slowly and steadily into the heart.

It might not be the most striking at first listen, but instead it's music which is - for whatever reason - the most lasting and comforting.

In short, it's the type of music that feels like an old friend, and Chapel Hill's own North Elementary makes that very type of music.

With the release of its third album,
Berandals, on the Durham-based Pox World Empire, this staple local band fronted by ex-Comas drummer John Harrison has created a fully digestible portion of slow-burning rock music.

All bound in fuzzy melodicism, the songs that complete Berandals create a blanket of soft, pretty pop songs with a rainy day quality, which lasts from beginning to end.

Hypnotic guitars on "Your Lights Are Turning" melt into Harrison's strained but sweet and crooning "Bring me down again," amidst a wash of fuzzy shoegaze which tries in vain to hide the bouncing power-pop heart of the song.

Only the sprawling "Concept of My Ghost (Japanese Honor)" - which clocks in at about 15 minutes before drifting off into white noise with the occasional, lulling blip - breaks the format.

Yet the song does this in a way that feels less like a self-indulgent epic and more like a lingering, bittersweet goodbye to what would otherwise be a lengthy EP.

While the album is only six tracks long, each song is of healthy length.

For those willing to become acquainted with the record's melodic nuances, Berandals offers that special intangible relevance, which so often explains why we listen to pop music in the first place. - Daily Tarheel


Discography

Not for Everyone, Just for You at (April 2008 in the UK via Last Press Label)

iTunes only EP release is set for early September 2007 and the first UK single, "You Have a Heart," is set for release via Last Press Label in October 2007

Berandals (2007 Pox World Empire)

Weeble Wooble Sound Series (2005 Sit-n-Spin Records - a record series consisting of 3 seven-inches)

Lose Your Favorite Things (2004 Sit-n-Spin Records)

Out of Phase (2002 Sit-n-Spin Records)

Songs have appeared on various compilation albums nationwide and in Europe, including Jane Magazine, Pox’s Compulation Vol. 1, and others.

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

The Chapel Hill, NC band North Elementary is a musical collective that orbits around the songs of John Harrison. With an inventive and soulful approach to songs, North Elementary creates moments that are beautifully original yet surprisingly familiar.

In the early 1990's, Harrison began recording songs and homemade sounds in bedrooms and basements across North Carolina via his boom box. Around the turn of the century, he acquired a 4-track and the ability to combine his songs and sounds into static, beep-filled, three-dimensional compositions. As a founding member of the psychrock band The Comas, most of Harrison's time was spent recording (Wave to Make Friends and Def Needle in Tomorrow) and touring, leaving little time for what was to become North Elementary. In 2001, Harrison parted ways with The Comas to prioritize his own musical endeavors.

With the help of friends, including Seven Mary Three singer Jason Ross and Sir Jerry Kee (Superchunk, Mendoza Line), North Elementary recorded the albums Out of Phase, Lose Your Favorite Things and the 7" project Weeble Wobble Sound Series (all released on sit-n-spin records). These records garnered high praise - "Lo-Fi Music Masterpiece" (Dominion Post), "Top 10 Albums of 2004" (Left of the Dial), "One of the Best Freakn' Bands in the World" (JANE magazine). All the while North Elementary toured constantly, sharing the stage with Apples in Stereo, The Minders, Superchunk and countless wonderful bands that light up the east coast on any given night.

After a show in late 2005, Harrison passed along some 4-track recordings to friend and producer Alan Weatherhead (Sparkelhorse, Lucero). The two exchanged ideas and North Elementay began recording the album Not for Everyone, Just for You at Sound of Music in Richmond, VA. This record is set for release in April 2008 in the UK only via Last Press Label.

In 2006/2007, North Elementary joined forces with Pox World Empire to release Berandals, which was recorded and produced by Zeno Gill (Portastatic, Rosebuds, J. Mascis). The songs on Berandals that were born on southern porches, big red couches and inside mansions are already receiving favorable acclaim - "The type of music that earns a spot on a list of personal favorites is the type that works it's way slowly and steadily into the heart. "Berandals" offers that special intangible relevance, which so often explains why we listen to pop music in the first place" (The Daily Tarheel).

North Elementary has toured relentlessly and will continue to do so with shows and festivals booked for Fall 2007. These tours include multiple trips around the east coast, Canada and a series of performances in the UK (November 2007). An iTunes only EP release is set for early September and the first UK single, "You Have a Heart", is set for release via Last Press Label in October.

And that is that for now.....cheers!