With the first tones of Don Cavalli’s Cryland, put out on the mighty Everloving Records out of Los Feliz, arrive questions. Among them: Was this CD made in 2008 or 1948? Is this Cavalli guy black or white? Is he from the north or south? Hell, is he even American? It’s a mystery, this music. It’s pretty clear that he listened to a lot of Slim Harpo in his life, and some Mississippi John Hurt. There’s blues, some pre-rock & roll action, some dance numbers. And the cover, by French designer So Me, who’s best known for his work with Kanye West, Justice and the Ed Banger crew, is an illustration in bold primary colors. It jumps off the page.
If you’re smart, you may take the So Me connection as a clue. If you’re even smarter, you’ll crack the gatefold cardboard case – Everloving does packaging as well as anyone – and look inside the damned thing. A few more French names and, yes, we won’t keep you in suspense any longer: Don Cavalli is not American or Italian but a Frenchman, and his Cryland was recorded last year in frickin’ Paris.
But then, that’s the way of Everloving, the label that since 2003 (though it was founded as Enjoy Records in 2000) has delivered hot music action from wherever it arrives, among others, Jack Johnson of Hawaii (Brushfire Fairytales, his first), Metric (Canadians), the Culver City Dub Collective (exotic Culver City) and Cornelius of Japan. They cherry-pick choice little records from across the globe and deliver them stateside. And they’ve got good taste in movies, too, having released the phenomenally successful soundtracks to Donnie Darko, Dogtown and Z-Boys and You and Me and Everyone You Know.
In 2008, the label has been concentrating on France. In addition to Don Cavalli, whose sturdy, danceable “New Hollywood Babylon” is totally infectious, Everloving released B.I.P.P.P.: French Synth Wave 1979-1985, a landmark collection of post-punk and dirty electro tracks, and is devoting their energies on Herman Dune, a group of Frenchmen who have been delivering smart folk rock for nearly a decade. Their new “I Wish That I Could See You Soon” EP comes in a great silk-screened package and contains five nice songs that recall Jonathan Richman in their lyrically bare, talk-singing style. “Take Him Back to New York City” is a fond reminiscence; “I’d Rather Walk Than One” is a skeletal ditty about long distance relationships; and its highlight, “I Wish That I Could See You Soon,” is a pure, honest love song.
Everloving’s biggest release this year will no doubt be Los Angeles natives Inara George and Van Dyke Parks’ An Invitation (which is streaming right now at www.everloving.com). George, of course, is best known for her work with The Bird and the Bee; and her previous solo release, All Rise, was also on Everloving. And Parks is responsible for working with some of LA’s most enduring bands, including the Beach Boys and the Byrds. His Song Cycle is a baroque-pop masterpiece, and in 2006 he teamed with Joanna Newsom to create the beautiful Ys.
George and Parks are a natural. The producer has known the singer, who is the daughter of late Lowell George of Little Feat’s daughter, since she was born, and you can hear that familiarity on An Invitation, which will be released on August 12. It’s a song cycle, and dances along as if on the head of a pin, with precise arrangements teeming with string quartets and pianos, muted trumpets and floating flutes. It’s gorgeous.
Here's the first track from An Invitation, along with a live version of Herman Dune's “I Wish That I Could See You Soon.”