After yesterday’s initial Tucson post, I’m continuing my 5-day odyssey through my favourite 5 recording artists (and movies over in Odessa). Yesterday was #5 on the list in the genius rap/hip-hop duo Madvillain, and today we have our number 4 entry, Southern California’s alt-country heroes (and partial name inspiration for this blog), Limbeck.
Limbeck are a four-piece from Orange County, CA and have been makin’ music since 1999. They have an infectious breed of indie rock/alt-country which they’ve plied in all 5 albums they’ve released to date – This Chapter is Called Titles (2000), Hi, Everything’s Great (2003), Let Me Come Home (2005), Limbeck (2007) and live album The Delicacy of Living Modestly (2008). Their music is not complex, it’s not that daring or experimental, it just works. They have an energy on record which is pretty rare and, despite not garnering the fame which some believe they deserve, they clearly enjoy what they do, which is a mindset pretty few artists have these days as they spend all day either buying pointy shoes or taking themselves too seriously.
Limbeck’s sound is lodged firmly in the ‘unerring positivity’ category, with songs detailing common occurrences like a bad gig (‘Everyone’s in the Parking Lot’ from Let Me Come Home) and running for the train (‘Sunset Limited’ from Limbeck). Their lyrics usually centre around describing what they’re doing, talking about the small towns they’re visiting, what the people are like and why they are in the middle of nowhere.
It’s not that Limbeck are overly poppy, it’s just that their particular brand of song would rather tell you how great being on tour is than lamenting a break-up. For them, music is celebratory and this is reflected in the sound they’ve produced. The song ’91 Honda’ from their third album illustrates for me perfectly what they’re all about; Robb MacLean, the lead vocalist, is telling us about his piece-of-shit car – “at the red lights, the engine can barely stay on/in my ’91 Honda” – which he is finally about to get fixed by “a guy from Victorville” after having caused him loads of problems. The song is so overwhelmingly optimistic about this clapped-out banger that you want to see it up and running again despite having never seen it.
And for me, the premise of that song is what makes Limbeck so great. Their songs, much like Robb’s shitty ride, could easily be in bad shape and ignored, but their energy and love for their songs makes them engaging and fun to listen to. The songs aren’t pretentious reflections on what it means to be alive or the symbolism of a bird taking a crap, they’re about routine events which everyone can relate to. I love Limbeck because I can see myself in their songs; driving through no-name towns or running after a train I know I’m going to miss, but somehow also enjoying myself all the while.
Limbeck are like the ultimate summer band, but they offer year-round enjoyment. It can make you pine for a sunny day, sure, but it’s nearly impossible to listen to Limbeck without a smile on your face. I can never really get bored of Limbeck because they’re so enthused to make music that they make me want to listen to them. Their songs never get dull because they’ve obviously been made with a lot of love, and for a band so under-the-radar to maintain such high energy levels and relentless enthusiasm is nothing short of miraculous.
Any time I need any cheering up I listen to Limbeck, and I think that’s exactly the way they want it.
Sickest tracks: ‘In Ohio On Some Steps’, ‘Gamblin’ Man’ (both from Hi, Everything’s Great), ‘Home (Is Where the Van Is)’ from Let Me Come Home, ‘Sunset Limited’ and ‘Trouble’ from Limbeck.
If you like this, you’ll also like: The Elected – Sun, Sun, Sun, I Can Make a Mess Like Nobody’s Business – I Can Make A Mess Like Nobody’s Business, Little Barrie – We Are Little Barrie.