Silverlake, Los Angeles
Mercury Rev, Beirut, The Flaming Lips
Hands down the best Christmas gift in ages came this past year - a build-it-yourself Ukulele kit. One of the most underrated instruments since the squeeze box or dare I say, the kazoo. However, since my perpetual laziness and lack of fine woodworking skills will most likely delay the satisfaction of my ukulele-wielding dreams - I will settle for the next best thing - Los Angeles band Pepper Rabbit - in all their soft spoken, ukulele-driven glory.
Vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Xander Singh initially recruited friend and drummer Luc Laruent to provide assistance recording material for a solo album in New Orleans. Instead, the two formed Pepper Rabbit, added a bassist and proceeded to produce a sound all their own.
Considered experimental by some, psych folk by others, even carnivalesque at times (in only the best sense of the word), Pepper Rabbit defy a proper genre tag to create delicate, meticulously crafted, careful arrangements built around orchestral loops and samples - deep enough to find emotion and meaning yet shallow enough not to drown us in excess. Their songs are bathed in sentimental melancholy and gentle layers of trumpet and accordion, clarinet and banjo, a tinkling piano and my beloved ukulele.
This past year Pepper Rabbit played a slot at Austin’s SXSW festival where they were snatched up by Kanine Records - home to indie faves Surfer Blood and the exquisitely atmospheric Grizzly Bear. Their slow-boiler of a debut album Beauregard - a remastered and reshuffled collection of their two previously self-released EPs Clicks and Shakes, along with a few new tracks - was released in October 2010 and offers a hazy, lush sound, cohesive from start to finish, that will warm you just a little bit more with every listen.