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Elk City

Who? Renée LoBue (vocals/keyboards) and Ray Ketchem (drums) have been making music together since 1990, first as part of the noise rock group the Melting Hopefuls and then as Elk City with singer/guitarist Peter Langland-Hassan. When Langland-Hassan exited the band several years ago, LoBue stepped up to the microphone and into the spotlight, while Elk City added two new members: ex-Luna guitarist Sean Eden and bassist Barbara Endes, formerly of the Lovelies. Trading in their acid folk psychedelics for a merry pop/rock mix, the group has just released the exuberant New Believers on Friendly Fire Recordings.

What’s the Deal? New Believers is dominated by the soulful vocals of LoBue, who captures both the vulnerability and swagger of Chrissie Hynde and “Redondo Beach”-era Patti Smith. The bouncy “Little Brother” is framed by handclaps, organ, and reverb. “Let’s jump in the river to celebrate the light that they left in our hearts,” LoBue sings on the hushed “Los Cruzados,” a gorgeous track that sounds like the lush alternative rock of Mazzy Star and Out Of Time-era R.E.M.

Fun Fact: Most of the lyrics for New Believers came to LoBue while she was falling asleep, so she started going to bed with a tape recorder. CHRISTINE RICHMOND

Now Hear This: Elk City – “Los Cruzados” DOWNLOAD MP3

Now Watch This: Elk City – “Cherries in the Snow”

On the Web: Elk City at MySpace

Talk: Does Elk City make a believer out of you?