Release Date: Oct 20, 2009
Record label: Drag City
Genre(s): Rock, Alternative
This band may take their time between releases now, but they get exponentially more sophisticated and adventurous, not only in their composed material, but in their approach to making records. This is just stellar top to bottom..
More than anyone, Devendra Banhart included, Espers should be looked upon as the proud parents of the neo-folk movement. (You thought we were about to say "freak," didn't you?) Even before their trailblazing 2004 debut album, guiding light Greg Weeks was toiling in the fields of psych-folk, absorbing as much as he could from the style's past and applying it to the present. Together with Meg Baird, Helena Espvall, and the rest of the Espers crew, the man who had soaked up so much psych-folk esoterica that he could grow his beard just by thinking about it became a kind of musical Dr.
Having seemingly shrunk back into the undergrowth following the dense psychedelia of 2006’s II, Philadelphian folksters Espers return to the fray with their fourth album, III (man, I bet they wish they’d renamed second LP The Weed Tree now, even if it was a covers record. ) Of course, Espers have hardly been resting on their laurels, as this new album reveals. The band’s creative driving force, Greg Weeks, has been almost as busy as fellow freak folkster Devendra Banhart, popping up on any number of other people’s records, and releasing a solo LP, the dirge-filled The Hive.
When Philly collective Espers entered the stage with their 2004 self-titled LP, they rode the freak-folk wave that was then taking over indie and made it freakier, adding a spaced-out acid-rock sensibility that took them to some unexplored middle ground between Bert Jansch and Hawkwind. When I interviewed Devendra Banhart around that time, Banhart made a big point about how the new weird America vanguard wasn't actually folk at all, pointing out along the way that the Espers folks were all big Sabbath fans. Made perfect sense.