City Paper is not for tourists
Standout Track: No. 12, “Only the Lonely Devil Knows,” which closes the album on a bed of loosey-goosey keyboards and slacker-jazz rhythms. “Where the heavens meet horizons in her eyes/I’m going, my one true love to find,” Jesse Elliott sings, though he sounds like he’s not in much of a hurry to get there.
Musical Motivation: The majority of the album was meticulously assembled one instrument at a time, mostly around D.C., but “Only the Lonely Devil Knows” was an off-the-cuff band effort. “It was the end of this long winter night in Chicago, and I had met up with these other friends at a party that we hadn’t seen in a year,” Elliott says. “We were driving around with these giant snowflakes hitting the windshield, and I just described this song to them.” Luckily Elliott’s companions included keyboardist Dave Hahn and drummer Mike August. “Dave says, ‘I’d love to play it,’ so we rushed back to the house in a winter-induced haze.”
It’s All About the Hamiltons: Not everyone was confident about recording the song, particularly multi-instrumentalist/producer David Strackany. “We only had time for two takes—Strackany bet me $10 that we couldn’t do it,” says Elliott. “We did it in one take. It’s probably the most money I’ll ever make off of a song.” —Aaron Leitko
These United States play IOTA Club & Café on March 3.