Elephant Micah, aka Joseph O’Connell, is one of several welcome transplants to the North Carolina music scene over the past few years. The formerly Indiana-based songwriter has flourished of late, releasing his well-received Where In Our Woods in 2015. While O’Connell has put out a slew of material over his 14-year career, many of those offerings (save Woods and 2012’s Louder Than Thou, in particular) have been of the more DIY variety, meaning many listeners still aren’t as acquainted with him as they should be. So here’s some quick catch-up: O’Connell released a 7-inch with Hiss Golden Messenger in 2012, and spent some time touring with Magnolia Electric Co. before that. Those artists should be an indication of his quality; he belongs in that company. His songwriting brings to bear a formidable understanding of American folkloric tradition and the chops to translate it to modern ears, while his voice reminds me a bit of Richard Buckner in its tone and emotional reach. These features suited this particular performance especially well.
The Living Room moved from the Lower East Side to Williamsburg recently, and this well-appointed, professionally-run venue suits the 2015 version of this neighborhood. With the move came a bold expansion of the space that, critically, did not diminish its original purpose. There’s now a large roof deck with DJs, and a well-appointed front bar, but there remains a dedicated, quiet, great-sounding music space in the back. It was here that Elephant Micah (as a full band) laid down a set that was, in his own words, reflective of “doing a lot of podcasts.” In his mind, that seems to have meant a darker tone, as the band played just one solitary Where In Our Woods song (“Albino Animals”) amidst a fascinating set of older material and traditional folk. The traditional numbers won the day here, particularly the scorching “The Ballad of the Lawson Family,” whose mournful lyrics gave way to a crescendo of electric noise. This was every bit a freeform set, off-the-cuff and true to the traditions that O’Connell does proud. If you haven’t experienced O’Connell’s fine work yet, start with Where In Our Woods, then work back to the recorded roots of these songs. You can see where this artist has been, and how he has grown. Then listen to this set again, and realize the beauty of him putting it all together. If you haven’t been, start paying attention.
I recorded this set with a soundboard feed from the Living Room FOH Kevin, together with Schoeps MK41V microphones. The sound quality is excellent. Enjoy!
Stream the complete set:
Brooklyn, NY USA
Exclusive download hosted at nyctaper.com
Recorded and produced by acidjack
Soundboard (engineer: Kevin) + Schoeps MK41V>KC5>CMC6>>Edirol R-44>2x24bit/48kHz WAV>Adobe Audition CS5.5 (align, mix down, fades, compress SBD)>Izotope Ozone 5 (effects, EQ)>Audacity 2.0.5 (track, amplify, balance, downsample, dither)>FLAC ( level 8 )
01 Hidden River Run
02 Albino Animals
04 Another Fire
05 Still Life Blues
07 The Ballad of the Lawson Family [traditional]
09 Pearl Bryan [traditional]