The Lassie Foundation was a dream-pop/shoegaze band from Los Angeles. They were active from the late 1990s to the mid 2000s. They released three proper albums between 2000 and 2004, and also released six EPs. Although they disbanded in 2006, they reformed in 2008 with the promise of a new album. They only came out with an EP.
A lot of people use that tired old cliché to describe their sound. You know. The one I hate. Just like I did yesterday, I’ll say that I don’t think they sound very much like My Bloody Valentine, but you’ll like The Lassie Foundation if you like MBV. And who doesn’t? I think they sound much more like Ride, with a dab of Swervedriver thrown in. I’d even say that they “sound like” The Jesus & Mary Chain. However, JAMC are “white noise” whereas The Lassie Foundation were “pink noise”. There’s a lot of technical stuff that explains spacial frequency and spectral density, and some of that relates back to “white” and “pink” noise in music.
When most people (and by “most people”, I mean non-musicians and non-scientists) say “white noise”, and talk about the “white noise” function on their alarm clock, the noise that they’re actually thinking of, from a technical standpoint, is “pink noise”, which is a little easier on the ears. Read the Wikipedia page on “colors of noise” for the basics of the nerdy details. Dig even deeper into the pages for the individual colors: white noise, pink noise, red noise, grey noise, for the super-geek details.
Without a degree in applied physics, I’ll just say that I don’t understand why and how, but I think I get that JAMC’s sound is “white” and The Lassie Foundation’s is “pink”. Of course it might simply be a half-metaphor. There’s no doubt that The Lassie Foundation is less intense than JAMC, just as pink is less intense than white.
Enough of that babbling. Back to today’s song.
I can’t even remember how I learned about The Lassie Foundation, but I remember that I mail-ordered it at some point in about 2002 without even hearing a single note from it. I loved it right away. I fell hard for the second song on the album, and liked the rest quite a bit too. Because I was so taken by track 2, and because track 1 is really nothing more than an intro for #2, I would often get caught in a loop. To borrow and modify a line from the brilliant Superchunk song “Detroit Has a Skyline, Too”, I used to “Play track one, track two. Again and again.”. I guess it’s redundant to say “brilliant Superchunk song”. Aren’t they all brilliant?
Anyway, I’d get caught in that loop, and the rest of the album would get ignored. I recently revisited the album for the first time in a couple of years, and I was blown away by the rest of the album. Today’s song, for the record, is track six. It’s one of the less noisy songs on the album, but I love it anyway. This song has more of a Slowdive feel to it that any of the other UK shoegaze/dream-pop bands that have been mentioned for comparison’s sake.
This is that song.
“El Rey” by The Lassie Foundation
I love how thick the drums and the bass are. A the start, that stuff is a grounding counterweight for the airiness of the jangly guitar and Wayne Everett’s dreamy falsetto. I like the bit after the “Here she comes walking right at you” when a little bit of steel guitar comes in at 2:10.
The final 1:20 is my favorite bit. There’s still that thunder of the thick drums and the bass. By this point, Everett sings in his non-falsetto voice. His refrains of
Here she comes walking right at you
are met with the response of
Good day, El Rey
angelically sung by guest vocalist Julie Martin. She was in a band called Bon Voyage with her husband Jason Martin. He was, in turn, in a band called Starflyer 59 with most of the members of The Lassie Foundation. Also in Starflyer 59 was Trey Many, who was a member of His Name is Alive and was a one-time collaborator with Jennifer Toomey, in the band Liquorice. Now that we’ve played “six degrees of Jenny Toomey”, we can all rest easier.
I really love the Slowdive-esque quality of the song right there in that final 1:20. Back up just a bit, though. At 2:39, there’s a single “Good day, El Rey”, before all of the call-and-response stuff. It’s hidden under the noise, but it’s there, and there’s just one of them. Brilliant.
In the last 30 seconds, after the “Here she comes walking right at you” was reduced to “Here she comes”, the bass and guitar drop out. It’s all drums and feedback in the coda, then just feedback for about 15 seconds. Right there, I wish Julie Martin’s “Good day, El Rey” looped as it faded out. I guess one can’t have everything.
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