Sound Track web extra: Eleventyseven

Greenville, S.C.-based pop-rock outfit Eleventyseven crafts bubbly, hyper-happy synth-pop (they’ve been embraced by Japanese audiences, and are currently signed to Sony Japan). But that’s not the band’s only trick. Their new EP, Attack of the Mountain Medley shows a different side. Song structures are more traditional. They edge up against Americana, with a hint of pop-country. There are acoustic guitars. Front man Matt Langston, in an email to Xpress, described the collection as folk. He also said this: “We did a limited run of it which has already sold out.” So, on Friday, Aug. 17, Eleventy will release Mountain Medley online.

Here, Langston talks to fans about the vocal tracking process:

Five tracks long, Mountain Medley begins with the bouncy, exuberant “Long Way Down,” a song that, but for the instrumentation, fits easily with Eleventy’s pop catalog. (In fact, it’s the rare Americana/country collection that leads with a mention of pirates and contains the line, “It was Will Smith and me, fighting for humanity,” as on the track “And I’m A Mormon” does.)

“All The Doubt In Town” is built on the standard country and bluegrass boom-chuck rhythm, though even the high notes of mandolin and a hard luck story don’t disguise Langston’s bright tenor. Or Eleventy’s finesse with a hook: “All the doubt in town ain’t enough to shake the ground that my feet have been walking on.” It’s the combination of the right words and the right rhythmic delivery that make the song work.

Eleventy is known for its tongue-in-cheek humor, so to find that songs like “Nobody’s Business” and “And I’m a Mormon” are satyrical is no surprise. The first of those two is the story of a trailer park — it’s a list of details by way of cliches: a car on blocks, a daddy in prison and a mama making bathtub wine. But, while there’s no bluegrass breakdown, there is some real finger picking prowess, and an undeniable sense of joy in the making of the song.

“And I’m a Mormon,” also satire, takes some stabs at the marketing campaigns of Mormonism. The cheekiness of the lyrics is the focus; here the instrumentation takes a back seat, leaning on pop building blocks, with hefty percussion and layered vocals.

Final track “Appalachian Wine” opens with a dramatic piano and violin instrumental that leads into a charming and, ultimately, touching fable about the romance between Mother Earth and Father Time. Here too, the hook (bolstered by hand claps) is instantly catchy and the emotion of the story is carried easily on the architecture of the song. The verses are sung over strummed guitar; the chorus is a lush affair of symbols and, yes, synthesizers. You can take the pop band out of the electronic studio but… do you really even want to?

With Mountain Medley, Eleventy proves (in case anyone was wondering) that they can pick a bit. And that they could probably write for the pop country charts as well as for Japanese teens. They also show that, in any format, they’re always Eleventyseven — which is exactly who this band’s fans want for them to be.

About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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