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After sitting here for a while, searching for a phrase that describes Phil Elvrum's music briefly but truthfully, a phrase that my friend has used many times continues to assert itself in my thoughts, despite my striving for originality:

"Everything Phil Elvrum creates just...radiates humanity."
It is very possible that I couldn't agree more. It has something to do with the natural rhythm of his songs, or the honesty and ambience of his songwriting, but I suspect that the realness of my friend's statement can only be perceived in his face when he sings. I have seen Phil perform three times since I listened to the album that skyrocketed his popularity (as far a an indie folk singer's popularity can skyrocket), and there are only two definitive facts about Phil Elvrum of which I am totally convinced.
  1. He is very attached to his sandals (he has worn the same pair to every show, and I have been to many)
  2. He is very attached to his music, and he takes it very seriously.
Other than that I really don't understand the man, and this is a good thing. People that are easily understood are boring, most of the time. When the Microphones are on stage however, I am entranced. He often uses metaphors about which I would laugh, coming from anybody else. He describes scenes I might normally consider mundane, even if I were living them. In his world, every dusty trail, cold stream, or field of snow peas is a treasure. In any case, before I let myself get carried away, here are some details.


Phil Elvrum grew up in Anacortes, WA where he met Bret Lunsford of Beat Happening. Lunsford turned the teenager on to the fertile independent music scenes in Seattle and Olympia. At the age of 14, he began playing with recording methods and equipment, which acording to his own description were abstract and very eperimental.

"The {early} Microphones stuff was just late-night recording experiments," says Elvrum. "I was figuring out how to use (recording equipment). It wasn't even like I had real songs, just weird experiments with noise."*
The "late-nite recording experiments" to which Elvrum is referring are a series of singles and cassettes, some of which can still be purchased through K Records. After high school, Elvrum moved to Olympia to attend The Evergreen State College. At that same time, Elvrum began touring as the Microphones and continued to make music in K Records' Dub Narcotic studio. The self-taught engineer and producer quit Evergreen after two quarters because, as he admits, litterally crimped his style. The recording classes he was taking taught him how to perfect the recording process, and he was more interested in natural effects, and what he calls "being sloppy."

Elvrum's recording philosophy is evident enough on both of his full length releases to CD on K Records, as well as on Mirah's new album "Advisory Committee," which he helped produce.

"I guess it's the sort of thing that people do on computers pretty easily, but we did it all on a broken 16-track."
The Microphones' music combines melodic recording effects and sleepy guitar riffs to create a dreamy and warm quality, punctuated by bursts of genuine rocking. Rocking with a passion. This is music that you do listen to on headphones, as well as on beatup old boom boxes in the sunlight, depending on your mood. Please, check it out. And if you live in the Northwest, doubly please go see him live.

A Note: In 2003 Phil Elvrum changed his stage name to Mount Eerie after releasing a full length album of the same name as The Microphones' final release of original material.

A Woefully Incomplete Discography

Don't Wake Me Up
8/24/1999 K Records 99 CD

2/8/2000 Yo Yo Records 13 CD

It Was Hot, We Stayed In The Water
9/26/2000 K Records 116 CD

The Glow Pt. 2
9/25/2001 K Records 133 CD

2002 St. Ives LP Only

Little Bird Flies Into A Big Black Cloud
2002 St. Ives LP Only

Song Islands
August 2002 K Records

Mount Eerie
January 2003 K Records

Live in Japan
2/3/2004 K Records
There are probably 20 other collections more in total, on cassettes, 7 in, and lps. Most are out of print. All are rare. If anybody has a complete list they're willing to share I would love them forever, in that way.

All quotes and biogrpahical information have been shamelessly lifted from an interview conducted by one fine reporter on The Olympian, Ross Raihala, located at http://news.theolympian.com/specialsections/Music/20020329/135735.shtml

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