"Rock and roll with an independent attitude."
That's the agreed upon response Ivy Meissner, Mike Runsvold and Chad Whittaker, members of local band Le Fleur, give when asked the question most musicians dread: What kind of music do you play?
Their collective answer is apt, but they don't really play rock in any traditional sense. It's not Elvis Presley rock, it's not AC/DC rock, and it isn't Death Cab for Cutie indie rock (although it might be a little '60s Question Mark and the Mysterians rock).
Lead singer/bassist Meissner's haunting vocals--made all the more so when she harmonizes with keyboardist Zach Jones--and noisy, eerie melodies that create mesmerizing bridges over rivers of minor chords go a long way toward making sure the band's debut full-length release, Din Din, will be a difficult one for record stores to shelve.
The sprawling five-and-a-half minute "Ambergris" opens with a sad trumpet wail answered by an equally sad but seething guitar while a menacing bass drum beat echoes in the background. Cymbals and twitchy guitar plucks soon join the fray, all anchored by Meissner's voice, which wails above the sound only to drop below and then come back up again like an exhausted swimmer struggling to stay afloat. "Spur" and "Stone Cold Eagle" follow more traditional two- to three-minute time spans, but fill those minutes with equally big orchestrations.
They released an EP, Truce, early last year, but it has been a long time between forming in 2005 and releasing their debut full-length. Runsvold sees that as more of a dedication to the band, not less. It's a sign of the willingness the members of Le Fleur had to put in the time and energy to record.
"You'll see a lot of bands come and go and never record anything. I don't think [that's] so uncommon. I think it's less common that something actually gets done."
It's the "gets done" part that keeps so many bands from releasing even one album. Produced by ex-Universal guitarist Phil Merrell, Din Din took Le Fleur about six months to record. It was a long process that gave the members a chance to perfect songs, but it also kept them from creating new ones, something Meissner particularly missed.
"I loved working on the songs," she said. "But I just want to get back to writing and playing."