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Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013

Lamb’s Legs Capture Their Live Intensity on Their Latest EP

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“There’s a sort of masochistic element, I think, in trying to be in a band,” says Lamb’s Legs guitarist Jeb Ebben, referring to a comment he made at the band’s Sept. 20 Summer of Lamb’s Legs EP release show. At that show he advised the crowd, “Don’t ever start playing an instrument; it will ruin your life,” and though the quip was meant to be glib, the sentiment resonated throughout the band’s performance as they displayed some of rock ’n’ roll’s most compelling elements—humor, menace, patience and chaos—in equal measure.

Often, bands as heavily rooted in artsy post-punk as Lamb’s Legs will sacrifice one of those elements for another in an attempt to appeal more heavily to the senses or to the intellect. Lamb’s Legs is capable of teetering on the edge of collapse as singer Bjorn Severtson maniacally, cartoonishly rambles his way through songs like “Berserker,” “Legomaniac’s Kiss” and “Gamey/Meagre.” Sometimes isolated, deep in thought on stage, sometimes laying on the floor and sometimes physically engaging the audience, Severtson’s delivery is reminiscent of familiar post-punk frontmen such as Al Johnson of U.S. Maple or Dave Thomas of Pere Ubu, but offers something slightly more approachable in its conversational tone.

Meanwhile, the band maintains some semblance of order, making its way through dark, heavy riffs that owe as much to metal as they do the abstract, discordant and challenging passages of art rock. The songs themselves are a joint effort of the veteran band members. Ebben is part of Dear Astronaut, drummer Kevin DeMars plays in the instrumental band Stock Options and has also worked with Mother Orchis, while bassist Dan Agacki is a member of Bored Straight. The only newcomer is Severtson, whose lyrical ruminations veer just as wildly between uncomfortable introspection screaming, “I don’t know why I thought it was a good idea / Maybe I was drunk / Maybe I was drunk!” on “I’m Not Married to the Tedium” and comical imagistic tangents like, “Hungry ghosts / Gotta pray for them / Because they can’t do it themselves,” on “Hungry Ghost Song.”

Like many great live bands, Lamb’s Legs’ sound is hard to capture on record, since much of their appeal lies in their visceral intensity. Their first EP, Drinks Bat’s Milk, is a collection of demos that the band recorded shortly after they assembled. And while the EP is great on its own merit, the expanse between what happens at a Lamb’s Legs show and what appears on those six tracks is apparent. This time around the band recorded enough material for a full-length release but opted to release only a handful of the punchier tracks over some that Ebben describes as more “spacy and textural.” Ultimately, Summer of Lamb’s Legs is a much more fitting representation of what Lamb’s Legs is capable of.

“I think there’s certainly something to the idea that if you do this, you have to have a certain dedication to it,” Ebben says. And like many musicians, including the rest of his bandmates, Ebben explains that he’s working and even heading back to school as we discussed how challenging it can be to balance something as inherently chaotic as rock ’n’ roll with a career. Thankfully though, there are groups like Lamb’s Legs willing to seek out those ominous sonic places that highlight the ambient absurdity of modern life in a way that’s as terrifying as it is entertaining.

The
Summer of Lamb’s Legs EP is posted for streaming and download at lambslegs.com.
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