Man Who Lost His Shadow
From Under the Radar, Fall 2007: Prior to eardrumming Sean O\'Connell\'s confident stride down the keys, I would\'ve never pegged The Beach Boys\' \'Don\'t Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)\' as a potential jazz standard. But here it is, in the sure digits of fellow Hawthorne, California, natives Leviathan Brothers, confidently swinging cleanup for Shadow opener \'Overture for Another Record\', a languid porch jam that happens to open this particular digi-wax just fine. \'Don\'t Talk\' is joined by a pair of other drums/piano-pop interpretations. A contemplative dream-float settles like ash over a spectral \'Playground Love\' - odd what atmosphere one can evoke without Air\'s electronic mushroom clouds. O\'Connell\'s ivories sit in for the thin White Duke on \'Life on Mars?\' as Miles Senzaki\'s spidery percussion happily splashes and pokes about. But enough about the homages (a 2006 reworking of Fiona Apple\'s \'Criminal\' is anything but); the originals are just as sweet. There\'s an almost Victorian wistfulness to O\'Connell\'s nostalgic \'Same Time Next Year,\' with bittersweet last-summer organ and bowler hat piano toasting the bygone. \'\'Gonna Get It Right\' wraps Shadow with a thoughtful determination that crackles into the sounds of the sea. Dive right in. From the District Weekly, July 11th, 2007: ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA The Leviathan Brothers only practice in bedrooms, explains pianist/projectionist Sean O'Connell. Nilsson albums nudge against Village Vanguard Coltrane recordings in the CD pile, and the adjacent kitchen counter is cluttered with paper scraps from one of O'Connell's other hobbies: amateur graphic design. Drummer Miles Senzaki's kit takes up most of the floor space, as O'Connell sits at his keyboard, back nearly pressed against his TV. The two are running through an interpretation of Bowie's "Ashes to Ashes," a potential remake that would bring the Leviathan Brothers' Bowie cover count up to two, including their audience-pleasing rendition of "Life on Mars," which, when the band is really on, can provoke a feeling a little like seeing someone unexpectedly jump onto the table at a formal dinner party and start gleefully kicking over the crystal. The Leviathan Brothers insist they are the only band to have played both the Silverlake Lounge and Culver City's venerable Jazz Bakery within a month. This is almost certainly true. Equally adept at pleasing both American Apparel employees and tweed-coated professorial types, Leviathan Brothers have found airplay on KCRW and KXLU, and they've had one of their songs featured in a documentary about Playboy cartoonist Eldon Dedini. They seem to be developing their own genre-a sort of electronic psychedelic jazz/pop that bleeds beyond the instrumentation itself and into the stage presence, song selection, and home decor of it's members. O'Connell met Senzaki while both were music undergrads and, originally joined by bassist Miguel Sawaya, they formed the Leviathan Brothers-initially a relatively straightforward jazz trio. After Sawaya left the band, the Brothers found themselves playing a gig at the Room 5 Lounge as a reluctant two-piece. "It didn't turn out nearly as bad as we thought it would," says Senzaki. "We discussed our different options and decided that Sean would fill in for the bass with a synthesizer." In a move much like hiring Eno to cover for Mingus, O'Connell purchased a Boss Dr. Sample and an Alesis synthesizer, which sit atop his regular keyboard and, live, give him the air of a dryly witty Rick Wakeman. Now with Mink DeVille clips, the occasional Will Ferrell sample, and the beautifully haunting "water piano" setting, the band broke through into something different. Absent the constraints of an acoustic jazz trio, O'Connell found he was able to realize the synthesis of the jazz music with which he had grown up and the pop music that he equally loved. The list of artists covered by the Leviathan Brothers ranges from local Hawthorne heroes the Beach Boys to Beck, Fiona Apple, Donovan, and Air-with the occasional nod to the Zeitgeist in the form of a Gnarls Barkley or Pixies cover. Their recent addition of Nirvana's "Dumb" to their live repertoire is perhaps one of their more irreverent and extraordinary interpretations, transforming the original's brooding intensity into a flurry of time signatures and energy that rivals the slow-burn menace of the original. The two have put the finishing touches on their second EP, The Man Who Lost His Shadow, recorded at Red Rockets Glare studios by the Idaho Falls' Raymond Richards, who is also releasing the album on his label and who says about the band, "They are the last gasp for a genre that hasn't been cool since '72." For the Rock and Roll Circus-esque record-release show at pen, the Brothers assigned Dios lead singer Joel Morales an opening solo set, augmented by a magic show courtesy of Gentleman James Camaro, a projection of their new music video created by South Park's Ryan Quincy, and various uncomfirmable surprises. Zinesters, literati, dirtbags, music snobs, and tech heads alike are going to love it. No cover will go unconsidered.