In 1995, Louisville, Kentucky was putting out more than just horrible southern rock — there also was a small collective pushing out emotive songs — ethereal vocals and fluttery pianos paired with an intense round bass and soaring guitars. Elliott was a very different machine, not only in the rolling hills of Kentucky, but also in the eyes of their record label. By the summer of 2000, while Revelation Records was pumping out releases like Drowningman’s Rock and Roll Killing Machine, or the Judas Factor’s Kiss Suicide, they also put out Elliott’s beautifully packaged False Cathedrals, which saw widespread appeal from more than just the [obligatory] emo kids.
This Kentucky quartet toured extensively with their heavier labelmates, continually drawing in more unlikely listeners, and soon found that they could hold their own at even the loudest metal shows, making appearances alongside the Dillinger Escape Plan, Lamb of God, and …Anti-Flag?
So, what made Elliott so enticing?
Elliott – Lipstick Stigmata
On “Lipstick Stigmata”, singer Chris Higdon evokes a pensive Radiohead vibe, and his voice becomes surrounded by a hypnotizing bassline. The bridge that ushers in the dynamic finale of the song doesn’t even need to be justified by my words.
Elliott – Shallow Like Your Breath
I have always thought that this tune was lyrically beautiful. The words in the first part of the song just float like butterflies, and somehow leave a mark on the listener (as Higdon sings, “We claw and mark like animals/ they show the scars we hide too well). In a surprise buildup and controlled explosion, Higdon wails over the saturation and wall of noise, “It’s time to count all the victims that were caught in our last explosion. we are the couple called suicide. we are the red cross white flag. you’re tired so let’s turn the lights out, you’re tired so let’s shut it off.”
Elliott – Drive Onto Me
Once again, there are ways that this band remind me of Radiohead, but Elliott’s album also seems to share a similar quality to Radiohead’s albums – the one hit song. While this band didn’t get any national airplay (though I’d assume a good amount of college stations were spinning it), “Drive Onto Me” has all the necessary components of a hit pop song — as interpreted by a relatively dreamy and powerful band.
– Nicholas J.