I’ll begin this with a line from Shakespeare’s famous heroine Juliet who says "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." I bring this quote up because I had to snicker a bit when I saw the name Pale Blue Erf, a four piece funk-rock band from Des Moines Iowa. It wasn’t so much the Pale Blue as the Erf. Is it mildly offensive? Perhaps to some though I highly doubt anyone’s really gonna cause a row about it. Is it funny? You’re damn right it is. But the boys in Blue Erf are no strangers to witty names. The members had all been playing together since 2012 under the name The Smoothsayers.
Since transforming themselves into Pale Blue Erf they have released two EP’s 2013’s Black Panties and now the five track EP in question Dawn of the Erf which came out in July of this year. The EP opens with classic jam band formatting of “Minotaur.” It combines the musical elements of a band like Phish with the lyrical absurdity of Stephen Malkmus.
Next comes the sprawling rocker “Wicked Eyes” which contains a pretty wicked guitar solo amidst some catchy and flowing waves of keys. To give one a sense of fun that seems at the heart of every Pale Blue Erf song here is a snippet of lyrics “The evil has invaded me/ conveyed so clearly that I'll never be set free/Locked inside by wicked eyes, subject to every whim and impulse utterly/ right down and dirty, you give it to me.” What I like about this, being a not so jam band oriented soul, is that Pale Blue Erf write lyrics that although absurd at times still in some way seem to be speaking of something serious while making light of it lyrically.
It doesn’t work as well on the repetitive “Mr. Wickles” but the band do get it pretty right on the elegant and dare I say it, pretty, “Tulare County,” which is an acoustic slow jam and arguably the best song on the EP. It sounds like the band are the most together here. Dawn of the Erf closes with the psychy-jam rocker “Mamba,” the shortest song on the record but also the wildest feeling.
I’m not sure what the long term plans of Pale Blue Erf are, whether or not they are planning on making another even more hilarious name change or just continuing on with this until it goes too far. What I do know however is that these boys know how to throw down some jams. So if you're into long wicked guitar solos, slap bass funk, rhythmic drums, some psychedelic keys Dawn of the Erf is definitely worth your time.
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