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May 17, 2010 | by  | in Music | [ssba]

You Smell Like the Devil and You Sound Like a War

Titles that open with the words “You Smell” don’t appear often enough for my liking. Thank goodness Wellington musician Craig Elliott saw the gap in the music market and swiftly remedied it. You Smell Like the Devil and You Sound Like a War is the debut EP from the former guitarist of local noise-rock trio Fanucman. His first solo foray is less like the all-out chaos of Fanucman and more of a pared down, acoustic-indie affair.

Elliott spent about a year and a half recording You Smell Like the Devil in his bedroom, playing all the instruments (bar a few drum tracks) himself. Rather than suffer from its basic production techniques, the EP benefits from them. It soon becomes apparent that recording has been carefully thought out and arrangements deliberately constructed, from the layered and lush-sounding guitars to the tightly packed vocal harmonies. The straight-laced, DIY production suits Elliott’s musical stylings, and do his songs plenty of justice.

The galloping acoustic riffs of ‘Honest Like an Animal’ and ‘Breaker’ showcase Elliott’s skill and comfort behind the guitar. The blending of electric strings on the latter, as well as ‘Vendetta Song Pt.1’ and ‘Vendetta Song Pt.2’ hint towards a subtle psychedelic element lurking beneath. Both start out innocently enough, but before you know it you’re being whisked into a swirl of loud guitars, drums and layered vocal harmonies.

Although You Smell Like the Devil revels in these louder, distorted and disorientating moments, it is essentially an acoustic EP. The devastating beauty of ‘Buffalo Breach’ has an air of Elliott Smith to it. Smith’s influence is clear throughout the EP, never coming off as imitation or tired pastiche, but more as a reference to how good acoustic music should be made. Elliott’s voice has a gentle fragility to it which is, at times, haunting while other times playful.

Clocking in at just over twenty minutes, You Smell Like the Devil is a punchy collection of songs that doesn’t overstay its welcome. It perfectly balances quiet and loud, acoustic and electric and no percussion to earthquakes of drums. From its opening with ‘Vendetta Song Pt.1’ to its closing track, ‘Designer Mind Controller’, the EP changes down gears smoothly before coming to a sudden, yet satisfying, halt.


Album: You Smell Like the Devil and You Sound Like a War
Artist: Craig Elliott
Label: Self-Released


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Comments (4)

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  1. Sunset Sam says:

    Hey is it true that this reviewer is related to the late Hunter S Thompson ?
    Either way he knows his stuff.
    Craig Elliot rocks my world


  2. Chad Brown says:

    An excellent review. Though I may have never heard of Craig Elliott otherwise, this bit of commentary is powerful enough to insure I’ll get find this EP one way or another.


  3. Alysia Johns says:

    Keen to hear this music now, it sounds new and exciting. Definately have to find a copy of this EP.


  4. Grant says:

    just heard the ist song on Kiwi Fm, tracked down the details . Great sounds. gonna buy it


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