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House of Tongues

by Elk City

Wire Goats 03:30
Jerks On Ice 03:04
The Onion 05:54
Neat Knight 03:09
Stars 03:59
Protection 03:25
2010 04:49


With House of Tongues, New York's Elk City re-invent the seductive sophistication of 1970's FM radio pop - but never shy away from their formidable rock power.

Singer Renée LoBue's muscular pipes are ripped and carry the torch. LoBue possesses one of her generations most versatile and distinctive voices, alongside the likes of Regina Spektor and The National's Matt Berninger. Her songs are a veritable transit rail from the intoxications of 1960's Bay Area psychedelia to the smoky Parisian outposts which might once have hosted Nina Simone.

LoBue is well-matched with guitarist Sean Eden, who joined Elk City soon after the break-up of the legendary Luna. Eden's performance on House of Tongues may well constitute his finest on record. Certainly his identity as a player has never been cast in bolder relief. Eden expresses and withholds his playing in a manner perfectly reflecting the hope and anxiety of LoBue's lyrics. His playing is conversationally forthcoming yet willfully oblique. Eden extracts reservoirs of emotion from tracks like "Jerks On Ice" and he tears the cover off the closing moments of "Wire Goats" - a galvanic piece recalling mid-period David Bowie, with a vocal turn from LoBue evoking the effervescent readings of Brian Ferry.

Producer/drummer Ray Ketchem's agile focus crops in on LoBue and Eden but is perfectly vignetted by new keyboardist, Carl Baggaley. Baggaley's facile transition from barnstorming barrelhouse rhythm playing to sophisticated, jazz informed digressions expands Elk City's already impressive range. In addition, Ketchem's propulsive drumming provides the drive for tracks like "Real Low Riders", which evolves from a minor key verse ala Sonic Youth into a major rave up befitting the best of Blondie.

The international-timeline song "Nine O'Clock In France" finds LoBue dreaming of a night out in Paris from a very New York perspective. "Revelry won't wait!", exclaims LoBue on the track, and you'll want to join her for cocktails as the chorus unfolds.

The conspicuous cover art for House of Tongues was created by American contemporary artist Brian Dettmer. Using a Harper's Dictionary of Classical Literature and Antiquities from 1937, Dettmer sculpted his unique interpretation of the splendorous architecture of Elk City's music.

House of Tongues is indeed an act of architecture, each song building on the next with a runaway momentum culminating, finally, in one of music's great catharses. If there is a central moment, it would be "The Onion", a song which finds LoBue reading along with the famous lampoon as she simultaneously strips away the layers of artifice from her being. "I finally have the courage to look into the mirror and stand up for my life..."

And here, over the course of five minutes and 37 seconds, a seminal artist reveals her essence and her brilliance, abetted by great band at the peak of their power.


released June 1, 2010

Produced by Ray Ketchem
Songs by Renée LoBue with Elk City
except “2010” written by LoBue/Eden
and “For The Uninitiated” written by LoBue/Eden/Ketchem/Baggaley
© 2010 Elk City published by sound is crazy music (BMI)

Renée LoBue / lead and backing vocals
Ray Ketchem / drums, percussion, synths, piano on “Stars”
Sean Eden / all guitars, backing vocals and piano on “2010”
Carl Baggaley / piano, organ, bass on “For The Uninitiated”
Barbara Endes / bass guitar

Recorded by Ray Ketchem and Steve Watson
Additional engineers David Voigt and Kim Rosen
Recorded at West West Side Music, New Windsor NY
Overdubs recorded at Orange Road Recording, Montclair NJ
Piano on "Wire Goats" recorded by Dan McKinney at Dan's House Studio, Center Valley PA

Mixed by Ray Ketchem
Mastered by Alan Douches
Cover art by Brian Dettmer


all rights reserved



Elk City Montclair, New Jersey

"Elk City’s cool and elegant sound draws on 1980s “dream pop” and bits of 1960s folk-rock."
- The New York Times 

"Elk City is one of NYC's best kept secrets; they'll appeal to fans of the Clientele, Camera Obscura and, seriously, Fleetwood Mac."
- L Magazine 

"LoBue is a firebrand - soft and gentle one minute, raising the hairs on your neck the next."
- PopMatters
... more

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