Pepper Rabbit Plays Austin’s Mohawk
Xander Singh and Luc Laurent, aka Pepper Rabbit, currently reside in Los Angeles, but they are originally from New Orleans, which might explain the hauntingly ethereal qualities of their debut full-length Beauregard (2010). Drawing frequent comparisons to Mercury Rev, Flaming Lips and label mates Grizzly Bear, Pepper Rabbit’s brand of sublimely atmospheric, lo-fi folk-pop is unique in its underlying cheerful vibrations.
To faithfully reproduce in a live setting such intricately layered songs is nearly impossible (the duo has added a third touring member on bass and synths), so I was curious to hear how well Pepper Rabbit will pulled off their show at the Mohawk on June 9th (with Mermaid Blonde, Horse + Donkey and Reverse X-Rays). In addition to songs from Beauregard, Pepper Rabbit performed some tracks from their sophomore full-length, Red Velvet Snow Ball, which is scheduled to be released on August 9th on Kanine Records.
The individual songs on Beauregard (which is a combination of two previously released EPs) may differ in terms of style, but they are all constructed via the same playbook: Singh’s ghostly layers of self-harmonized vocals float around a symphonic cacophony of instruments — including keyboards, trumpet, accordion, clarinet, ukulele — that are bound together by Laurent’s driving percussion. Each track is enchanting enough on its own, but it is the collective whole of the album that transports the listener on a psychedelic carnival ride. Don’t worry, no seat belts or harnesses are required; Beauregard is a soothing ride, one that can be slightly disorienting at times but never too dizzying.
Surprisingly, there is absolutely no filler to be found on Beauregard; every track could very easily be considered a “single” in some awesome fantasy world where mainstream radio stations played singles by bands like Pepper Rabbit. But let us just say that you were looking for one Pepper Rabbit song to begin with — you want to kick the proverbial tires, as it were — well, “Older Brother” is the obvious first choice (and it is Pepper Rabbit’s official “single” for those of you who live in one of those awesome fantasy worlds, such as Internet radio, where radio stations will actually play songs like “Older Brother”). Like most Pepper Rabbit tracks, you would discover that “Older Brother” is an incredibly simple song if you were to peel away the many complex layers surrounding its core; but it is the almost absurd elaborateness of the production that elevates something so simple into a song that is as close to a masterpiece as Pepper Rabbit has created. Honestly, music rarely gets more beautiful than “Older Brother” — and I can think of no greater compliment than that. I really hate to play favorites though, because “Red Wine”, “Snowalker” and “Babette!” are all fantastic songs too; and I should probably reiterate that Beauregard is an album to experience in its entirety, rather than select tracks.
From what I have read, it sounds like Singh and Laurent are expanding their horizons with Red Velvet Snow Ball, incorporating a more diverse range of influences (including Portishead, David Bowie, Supertramp and Jamie Lidell). My curiosity has been adequately piqued.