Chaparral's 2014 release Elpis is just as bright, cheery, and lush as the definition of their name. A chaparral is essentially an area where certain kinds of plants can grow in warmer climates, such as in California—and there are certainly beachy vibes present in this LP. With the sunny, psychedelic folk-rock influence of Woods (whom the band named themselves after), Elpis is that feeling you get strolling through the Boston Public Garden on a cloud-free summer day.
The songs are diverse enough to make listening to the album an enjoyable, dynamic experience, yet they harbor enough similarities to maintain the integrity of the record. The tracks fluctuate from shimmering, undulating, and sickeningly sweet to sunburned and lethargic. “My Own Drama” features heavy, distorted chords in conjunction with a lazy guitar line, adding drama and darkness to an otherwise genial sound. It’s a bit awkward, as this roughness doesn’t quite suit Chaparrals’ otherwise easygoing, summery vibe. But just as there are unexpected stormy days, “My Own Drama” is that foreboding gray cloud lingering low.
Any band with true mastery over their instruments can hold your attention even with minimal lyrics. “My Love” is this interlude—powerful with echoing, drawn out lines from various instruments, creating a vernal chorus of sound. It maintains a delicate structure, as well, never pushing past a forceful pianissimo.
The album floats on in a haze of dream pop and sunlight, culminating in “Winter’s Pill.” Though conversely named, it’s arguably the sunniest track on Elpis. Brightly strummed guitar and carefully paced vocals send you into a serene lull, as the song laments the end of summer and the emergence of winter—both seasonally and in one’s life.
Masterfully crafted from start to finish, Elpis is worthy of praise as flourishing as a true chaparral. Chaparrals have certainly done Woods justice, incorporating the perfect amount of flickering guitar and divine, echoing vocals, and balancing it all with just a dash of attitude. Lay out your favorite beach towel and dip your feet in the Charles or the Atlantic— summer is here, and it’s called Elpis
Anna Marketti - Sound Of Boston
CHAPARRALS- “CLEARLY OVERBOARD”
By Carrie McMahon, October 20, 2014
To begin writing about a song, I generally start with jotting down a few notes about what sticks out. It’s forceful vocals or layered instrumentals or clever lyrics. When I first heard Clearly Overboard, off the debut LP ELPIS from Somerville band Chaparrals I played it again, and again. I didn’t write any notes. I simply wanted to hear it one more time.
The song swims through gentle guitars, light drums, and delicate hits of the cymbal. A clear soothing voice builds ever so slightly at times, only to come back down and sink into the sound.
The video for Clearly Overboard is as carefully considered as its sister song; it moves just as thoughtfully through various images as the music does through its own subtle waves of energy.
At the start, a still figure on a path faces away from the camera looking deep into the woods. Next, she is inside a museum standing in front of one piece of artwork then another. Other museumgoers move slowly around her. Slices of video are flipped through like old film, stuttering and flickering between shots.
In both the video and the music for Clearly Overboard gently and inquisitively grapples with questions of solitude.
Carrie McMahon -BOSTON HASSLE