I came across The Relevant Elephants while reading a Reddit topic wholly unrelated to music, (the comment is here if you'd like to read it for yourself) showing that you can find good music you might have never heard of otherwise in the most unlikely of places! Named by Stephen Colbert after the members asked for a good band name during a taping of The Colbert Report they attended, The Relevant Elephants describe their sound as "kick-ass party music" and that's honestly not too far off the mark from their particular brand of rock that assimilates funk, ska, reggae and country all throughout the band's self-titled EP.
"Hot Air Balloon" eases listeners into The Relevant Elephants' offerings with a lightly picked introduction that soon makes way for a no-holds-barred jam session of a verse that as you might expect, presents the idea and invitation of a hot air balloon ride to the lucky lady of lead vocalist Zack Hankins' affections, buoyed by a a ska-like chorus that gives the impression of floating along in a balloon, but with a purpose and never drifting aimlessly. The longest song on the EP, clocking in at five minutes and twenty-three seconds, "Curse" covers a subject I don't think I've heard voiced as frankly as The Relevant Elephants put it: the despondency that comes of writing about and for a muse that you can't have due to life on the road, and that the circumstance of having many other adoring women vying for your attention doesn't always quell that kind of longing. Topped off with a lightning-quick guitar solo by Taylor Knox that plays into the emotions that come with a lament unique to musicians and those with careers with similar travel time and lack of personal time, it's a perspective worth hearing out.
Carried by a delectable bassline courtesy of Adam Khalil, the funky "Mr. Jackson" doesn't hold back in its criticisms of a hypocritical older man that voices his opinions but never takes anyone else's into account and who is unable to see that the bad choices made have led him to his current problems in life. Whether Mr. Jackson is someone the band actually knows, or represents the people in their lives that just don't get it, if you have anyone similar in your own life, you'll be able to relate. "Paper Walls" and "Devil on my Shoulder" are the most straightforward rock and country songs found on the EP, respectively, with "Paper Walls" slowly evolving from its acoustic beginnings into a full-fledged rocker as it chronicles the tearing down of a relationship's foundations ("I can't build a home with paper walls") and the acceptance that eventually comes with it ("The storm has passed, I'm safe in my room, so I guess I can last") while the jittery, bluegrass-tinged "Devil on my Shoulder" closes out the EP with its reflection on personal vices and the desire to clear one's conscience.
The fuzzy recording quality of the EP isn't one that's detrimental to the material found within, but instead fits The Relevant Elephants' organic feel like a glove and makes them come across as anything but amateurs, and the specific choices they've made at this young stage in their career to carve out a distinct identity and sound while also remaining highly accessible are made all the more impressive. With a goal of returning to The Colbert Report but this time as the musical guests, with this strong of a start from The Relevant Elephants, it's not hard to picture them achieving that goal and then some!