Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Brett Allen
The house of nines that the Los Angeles band Everest tells us about in its song of the same name is something like the house of the rising sun, for it may as well be infested with scandalous ghouls and smoky nightmares, a place that recurring dreams go to thrive - the ones where the same men in suits, with guns or knives, are chasing you through the night toward a locked door, always a locked door. The song, the way singer Russell Pollard sings it and guitarist Jason Soda, guitarist Joel Graves, bassist Elijah Thompson and drummer Davey Latter play it, is an encrypted, darkened lane lined on both sides by hellhounds hunched in the ditches, just waiting to spring out, scare the piss out of you and then worse. It's a song that's bedded in all kinds of misty dream world color and sensation, letting you fear the worst, during those hours late in the night when you're supposed to be at rest, but your mind's racing like an asteroid and you couldn't possibly get any sleep. It has a tragic makeup that never fully reveals itself and this is a theme for many of the songs on the band's latest album, "On Approach," which is out again on Neil Young's Vapor Records. Pollard traffics in the kind of lyrical insights that are worn out hopes and unsubstantiated creakings and feelings. So often, he sings from an almost mystified place, where there are fewer and fewer clarities and he's left to navigate the currents with toothpicks instead of oars. It's as if his characters are treading water and just looking to jettison anything that will make the task simpler. They're throwing everything over the side, but first going through a vetting process that extensively analyzes all things and then heaves. There's much to discuss and there's much to digest when cleaning house and there's always a reluctance to just toss junk and baggage. It's as if there's a necessary reason that it's been hanging around as long as it has and for that, it gets more consideration. Pollard sings of the residual stings and haunts of all kinds of relationships and life experiences and he's great at finding the poisoned strands and those moments of déjà vu and dwelling on them, believing that they mean more than we might give them credit for. There is a lot of holding onto the past and old, tired feelings, struggling to just let them go off and into the ether to be with all else that's been forgotten and released. The band, made up of some of the most skilled young musicians in the City of Angels, adds various layers of tension and helps Pollard break these vibes up into some sinewy and affecting pieces of what you might even call folky drone, burning through their ideas with reverence, but also without being in a hurry. They are fine with dwelling and fine with sitting and letting the cigarettes burn down to the knuckles, to a spot where the feeling kicks right back in again.