Robert Higgs and Dayana Yochim of Pelicans and Their Allies sympathize with their avian mascot. Higgs believes the birds are, “… unable to hide how awkward and bumbling they are – all pointy angles and floppy feet with a stupid hairdo. But when they glide they are the most graceful and beautiful looking things ever. It may not always be readily apparent, but we are all great at something.” In this case that something is music. While birding on the Gulf Coast one day, Higgs picked up a pamphlet that listed local species, which included the heading Pelicans and Their Allies. The band name was found.
Pelicans and Their Allies is an Atlanta and Washington DC-based band formed in 2014 by Higgs (lead vocal and guitarist) and Yochim (vocal and multi-instrumentalist). The duo produces smart, quirky indie pop that crosses varied terrains, from pretty and subtly melancholic, to full of big drums and pop hooks. Between the two, a multitude of instruments – violin, glockenspiel, melodica, various toy organs and keyboards, electric guitars, and percussion – can be heard in each song on their self-titled EP.
Authenticity fused with a nerdy playfulness is the backbone of Pelicans and Their Allies’ music. Their self-titled record asks listeners to figure themselves out. Who are you? Where do you belong? What is your best life and who will you share it with? While maintaining a pretty and fun sound full of hidden pop-culture references, every song tends to incorporate a playful-made-serious and/or serious-made-playful tone. In “Sam vs The Ape” Higgs’ inspiration comes directly from his fans. One fan requested a song about Mark Twain, which became a song about Sam Clemens struggling with his alter ego, peppered with a hint of King Kong. Ultimately the song is about the constant struggle we face in dealing with our best and worst selves.
Pelicans and Their Allies is an evolution of a previous collaboration, Addieville, which unfolded over the course of 2012 – 2014. Addieville was Robert and Dayana focusing on acoustic guitar and cello. In 2013 four songs turned into a folk-pop EP titled RaceCar. In 2015 the collaboration moved from acoustic to plugged in, from Addieville to Pelicans and Their Allies. The band might pop up in a playlist with Yo La Tengo, Generationals, The Shins, Andrew Bird, the Mountain Goats, Bishop Allen, and Built to Spill’s softer side. Come late 2015, the road trip begins and the good times continue.
Guitar, bass, keyboards, vocals and percussion by Robert Higgs
Keyboards, vocals and cello by Dayana Yochim
Drums by Tom Haller
Engineered by Robert Higgs, Chip Dipson and Mat Leffler-Schulman
Mixed by Mat Leffler-Schulman