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Music Review: Elizabeth & The Catapult – Taller Children

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I wonder if it's only New York artists that can maintain their sense of humor while thinking about serious affairs like finance or the future. It seems like the New York atmosphere cultivates that kind of grounded sensibility.

There's the ironic Nellie McKay and there's the pop-heavy addicting Matt & Kim. Now, there's also Elizabeth & The Catapult that somehow finds a balance between being smart and witty and smart and proper.

Elizabeth Abby Ziman (vocals), Pete Lalish (guitar), and Danny Molad (drums) met each other way back in 2004, and the three have spent the subsequent years experimenting and crafting their sound.

Elizabeth & The CatapultBut oddly the three felt that New York wouldn't be the best place to record their debut album Taller Children and instead had sessions in producer Mike Mogis' Presto! Recording Studios in Omaha, Nebraska. Elizabeth explains, "New York is so much a part of us, and there's such a kinetic energy here, but there was a sense of calm recording in Omaha that really added a new dimension to what we were doing" (press release).

The calm is definitely present in much of the album, even in the more upbeat pop songs like the jazzy pop number "Momma's Boy" and the 'kids will be kids' tune "Race You." The title track "Taller Children" helps really kick start the album's overall theme in that growing up is a continual and probably never-ending fact of life. While it's a true and ironic idea, Elizabeth puts it in a much more serious perspective: "On a grand scale, that can sometimes be a pretty scary concept, especially when it's regarding people in power who can't handle their responsibilities." Unfortunately that perspective is still true and ironic.

With that in mind, Elizabeth & The Catapult keeps it mellow and serene as much as they can. From the Carpenters-sounding "Rainiest Day Of Summer" to the Feist-like "Apathy" to the folk ballad "Just In Time," the trio doesn't hesitate to recreate those moments where futures are determined by life-altering decisions.

Elizabeth lightens up music that could've been cliché and moody, especially in the dreary Leonard Cohen cover "Everybody Knows." Taller Children is an interesting and enjoyable debut album from New York-based threesome Elizabeth & The Catapult.

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