Everybody's a Pinata was El Gato's first CD EP Release. It's a brilliant recording and a strong debut.
A product of the revered underground music scene in Denton, Texas, El Gato continues to challenge itself and listeners with their new album, "Surrender!" Recorded at Satellite Park Studios in Malibu with David McConnell (Elliott Smith, Wilco) and in Dallas with Stuart Sikes (Cat Power, Modest Mouse, The Walkmen), Mark Pirro (The Polyphonic Spree) and Sir Williams Paul, "Surrender!" captures the group sounding more focused and confident than ever.
After the success of 2002's critically acclaimed "We're Birds", the band seemed to be well on its way to bigger and better things. Producer David McConnell had seen El Gato perform, and he invited the band to come record at his home studio in Malibu where he had been recording many of the songs that appeared later on Elliott Smith's "From a Basement on the Hill." However, when bassist Evan Hisey left the group to play full time with The Polyphonic Spree, the future seemed uncertain. El Gato persevered recruiting long-time friend Kirk Dixon to play bass, and headed to Malibu to record six songs.
Shortly thereafter lead songwriter and vocalist John Vineyard became restless and decided to pack up and move to San Diego. "I just couldn't keep sitting in the same room writing songs -- I felt like if I was going to develop as a writer and artist I had to grow as a person," says Vineyard. "I had lived in Texas all my life. I wanted to go somewhere else. I think that a lot of people get to that point -- where it seems necessary to get away and shake things up." So he headed to California to write songs and "get in the ocean."
The songs he wrote in California were sent back to the members in Texas. They would develop them, and Vineyard would come to Texas every few months to play a couple of shows and record the strongest material. The result is a stunning album. A sense of anxiety and longing permeates many of the songs as Vineyard wrestles with spirituality, relationships and self-identity in a postmodern world with very few absolute truths.
"This is a heavy record, but it's very honest and there are bits of hope and humor in there if you dig deep enough," Vineyard says.
Dig deep and you will be rewarded.