Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Microphones (1996-2004) were an Olympia, Washington-based indie rock collective fronted by Phil Elvrum. More specifically, "The Microphones" was a psuedonym for Elvrum, as he was really the only member, but many of Elvrum's friends made multiple guest appearances on his albums. Most recently, Elvrum has dropped the Microphones name and settled with Mount Eerie (2004-present).
Phil Elvrum became involved in the Washington music scene while working at a record store in his home town of Anacortes in the mid-1990s. Elvrum began experimenting with some recording equipment in the back of the record store, eventually drawing the attention of the store's owner, Bret Lunsford . Lunsford helped Elvrum release two cassettes (Microphone and Wires and Cords) on his label, KNW-YR-OWN . These early cassettes were filled with simple, archaic songs and some strange sound collages, all, however, finely produced considering Elvrum's lack of experience and outdated recording equipment. Elvrum played drums in Lunsford's band, D+, for some time until he moved to Olympia.
While in Olympia, he caught the attention of K Records owner and musician Calvin Johnson. After recording for some time at the Dub Narcotic studios, Elvrum was able to complete his first full-length album, Tests, which was released in 1998 on Elsinor Records . Tests combined songs from his earlier cassette releases and the recently-recorded Dub Narcotic recordings. At the same time, Elvrum released his first single, "Bass Drum Dream".
Elvrum slowly gained recognition as a strong talent in the studio. While helping, often anonymously, with many of the area's artists, he began work on his second full-length, Don't Wake Me Up, released on K Records in 1999. Elvrum toured for a few months following the release with fellow K Records artist Mirah, and, showcasing his talents on the road, he was able to build a small but loyal fanbase and gain appreciation in the indie music scene. While performing in another K Records band, Old Time Relijun , Elvrum began recording It Was Hot, We Stayed in the Water. Released on K Records in 2000, the album was Elvrum's most ambitious yet. During the recording of the album, Elvrum would have other musicians, K Records employees, and friends help with playing instruments or singing. The collaborative nature of the album did not, however, detract from Elvrums precise, almost obsessive songwriting and production. The album was layered with harmonic guitars, static, and Beach Boys-esque harmonies. Elvrum was noted for his gentle, boyish voice and imaginative lyrics. It was widely appreciated by critics.
Elvrum's next release, The Glow Pt. 2, was even more ambitious than It was Hot.... Released by K Records in 2001, The Glow Pt. 2 was noted by critics for its exceptional production and equally impressive songwriting. Probably his best-known album, it explored intensely personal themes, recalling lost loves and childhood memories. Sometimes sad, simple, and gentle ("I Felt Your Shape"), other times intense and layered with noise, guitars, and drums ("The Glow Pt. 2"), the album was immediately a favorite in the underground indie rock scene.
Elvrum's next release was a compilation of single, b-sides, and early releases, entitled Song Islands. While lacking the consistent theme of It was Hot..., the album offered listeners a glimpse at the versatility of Elvrum's songwriting; the album's collection of songs ranged from folk sing-alongs ("I Can't Believe You Actually Died") to fuzz-pop ("Weird Storm").
Elvrum, after taking a long tour of Europe and North America, began work on his next album, the epic Mount Eerie. Released by K Records in 2003, the album was named after the mountain on Fidalgo Island where Elvrum spent much of his childhood. Containing five long songs, the album picked up from where The Glow Pt. 2 left off. In the story, Elvrum dies, is eaten by vultures, and discovers the face of the Universe. It represents a turning point and a realization period in Elvrum's life. Although not as highly regarded by critics as The Glow Pt. 2, Mount Eerie was noted, once again, for its stellar production and imaginitive songwriting.
Following the release of the Mount Eerie album, Elvrum announced that he would dissolve the Microphones moniker, opting instead to record under the name "Mount Eerie". Elvrum, in an interview with discorder (September 2003), gives his reasons for this change: "Mount Eerie is a new project. The Microphones was completed, or at least at a good stopping point. I did it because I am ready for new things. I am new."
Shortly after this announcement, Live in Japan, recorded during three days during Elvrum's tour in Japan in 2003, was released by K Records. Despite the fact that the album contained all new material, the album was credited to The Microphones. It is widely believed to be the last official Microphones release.
Since the name change, Elvrum has released a few singles, printed in limited numbers and sold only at his live shows. Elvrum has also created an ambitious 3-LP recording of Mount Eerie titled Live in Copenhagen, released by Burnt Toast Vinyl in late 2004. The first Mount Eerie studio album will be No Flashlight, to be released on Elvrum's own label, P.W. Elverum & Sun, Ltd sometime in 2005.
In addition to his albums, Elvrum has released a few self-published poetry books. He is also a painter, and has provided the artwork for most of his albums and many t-shirts and posters sold during his tours.
Elvrum has been credited as a producer on many other artists albums, including Mirah's album Advisory Committee.
Elvrum has, most recently, begun his own label for small artists and miscellaneous releases, called P.W. Elverum & Sun, Ltd.
The Microphones: albums
- Microphone (1996)
- Wires and Cords (1996)
- Tests (1998)
- Don't Wake Me Up (1999)
- Window (2000)
- It was Hot, We Stayed in the Water (2000)
- The Glow Pt. 2 (2001)
- Song Islands (2002)
- Mount Eerie (2003)
- Live in Japan (2004)
The Microphones: EPs/singles and other releases
- Microphone Mix Cassette (1997)
- "Bass Drum Dream" 7" (1999)
- "Feedback (love, life, loop)" 7" (1999)
- "Moon Moon" 7" (1999)
- "I Can't Believe You Actually Died" 7" (2001)
- "The Moon" 7" (2001)
- Blood LP (2001) (limited release, hand made, full-length album of sounds, demos, and other material from the recording of The Glow Pt. 2)
- "Lanterns/Antlers" 7" (2002)
- Little Bird Flies into a Big Black Cloud LP (2001) (limited release, hand made, full-length album of Elvrum accompanied by an organ)
- The Singing from Mount Eerie 10" (2003)
- The Drums from Mount Eerie 10" (2003)
- The Headwaters of Mount Eerie CD and book (2004) (limited release "explanation" of the themes and inspirations for Mount Eerie)
Mount Eerie: singles and albums
- "7 New Songs" CD-R (2004)
- "2 New Songs" 12" (2004)
- Live in Copenhagen 3xLP (2004)
- "Mount Eerie Dances With Wolves/Wolf Mountain Howls In The World" 12" (2005) (actually a re-release of "2 New Songs")
Books and printed materials
- "It Was Hot, We Stayed in the Water sheet music" (2000)
- "Little Bird Flies into a Big Black Cloud" (2001)
- "What Wonder?" (2002)
- 2005 hand-drawn and photocopied desktop calendar (2005)
Artists who have played with Elvrum
- Karl Blau
- Dennis Driscoll
- Kyle Field of Little Wings
- Adam Fokner
- Calvin Johnson of Beat Happening, Dub Narcotic Sound System and The Halo Benders
- Al Larsen
- Bret Lunsford
- Khaela Maricich of The Blow and Get the Hell Out of the Way of the Volcano
- Justyn Pogue
- Jason Anderson aka Wolf Colonel
- The Microphones / Mount Eerie official website
- K Records
- KNW-YR-OWN Records
- P.W. Elverum & Sun, Ltd. (Elvrum's own label)
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details