Pasadena Weekly Feature

Making music for themselves
Everest bucks the odds at Spaceland

By Bliss 06/12/2008

Timing is everything. So is chemistry. Just ask the guys in Everest.

A year ago the Eastside-based indie-rockers hadn’t yet recorded their debut full-length, “Ghost Notes.” In fact, they were barely even a band yet. They were a bunch of seasoned players who were also friends, bonded by a shared appreciation of classic pop, 1960s and ’70s California rock, and Silver Lake chic.

Now, thanks to a confluence of experience, events and savvy management, they’re basking in warm reviews for “Ghost Notes,” released last month on Neil Young’s Vapor Records, and gearing up for a European tour with My Morning Jacket. Not too shabby.

It’s no big surprise that Everest’s organic-sounding songs inspire frequent mentions of Young, Wilco and the late Elliott Smith. Collectively, frontman/guitarist Russell Pollard, guitarist/keyboardists Jason Soda and Joel Graves, bassist Rob Douglas and drummer Derek Brown have played with a host of LA rock, folk and roots artists who similarly value melody and meaningful lyrics (not to mention warm analog sounds), including the Watson Twins, Earlimart, Sebadoh, Folk Implosion, Mike Stinson and John Vanderslice. Individually, they had each logged hard miles and earned respect for solid musicianship, and were searching for a chance to make something happen with their music.

So when they came together last year to just make music for themselves, more than just their harmonies clicked. They didn’t play out all that much but, seemingly overnight, a quiet buzz mushroomed around their lulling, smoothly grooving sound. They recorded “Ghost Notes” over two weeks last August with Foo Fighters engineer Mike Terry, who produced. After signing with Vapor, they released the album in early May and promptly hit the road to promote it with a cross-country tour that’s been earning good reviews.

In the studio, a mellow California vibe pervades, but live, Pollard & Co. crank the amps and put a harder-driving edge on songs like “Reloader” and “Into Your Soft Heart.” Yet their midtempo songs are often their most memorable — maybe because their melodies are so well crafted, or perhaps because they allow more room for Pollard’s lyrics to be heard. “Trees” sounds startlingly akin to Tim Easton, while the steel-washed “Angry Storm” and “Taking on the Future” (“This is all we have: today”) are as smart as they are seductive and beautiful.

Outside of dreams, it’s all too rare that good things come to those who wait. But so far, the members of Everest are proving a happy exception.