In The Valley Below
Seldom has a debut single seduced so many, for so long. Two years since its release, In The Valley Below’s “Peaches”, which was first picked up by European alternative radio, continues as an international airwaves staple - testament to the enduring viral power of its sunny yet smoldering songcraft and celebratory surrender to mutual attraction.
In The Valley Below - Angela Gail and Jeffrey Jacob - meld adventurous art rock, squelchy synth pop, harmony-laden Americana, and woozy blues into something altogether different: stylistically elusive, yet oddly inclusive. Her loaded purr cajoling his weathered inflections, they craft gauzily compelling music at once introverted and all-embracing.
A small-town girl from Michigan, Gail discovered songwriting while holed-up on an even smaller Caribbean sailboat. A thousand miles away in Memphis, Jacob was inhaling Link Wray’s ragged rebellion and the darker side of Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel. In The Valley Below was born one Texas night when the pair, performing at SXSW in an experimental L.A. rock band, recognized their rare on-stage connection. Back in California, they plunged into collaboration with twin-like telepathy and a feverish, fated chemistry.
Though never intended as a gigging band, ITVB’s genre-ambiguous, dreamily accessible expressions traveled well, inducing tireless touring. High-profile stops included England’s Reading and Leeds festivals, Rock en Seine in Paris, The Late Show with David Letterman, and Conan. They shared their journey with the likes of The Airborne Toxic Event, White Lies, Cold War Kids, and Robert DeLong.
In The Valley Below’s debut album, The Belt, is a mysterious, mesmerized and relentlessly melodic record that bares powerful tales of lust, loss and faith like open wounds, while hinting at hidden meanings. Opening with “Peaches”, it also births the huge, hands-aloft hooks of “Neverminders” and “Stand Up”. The deliciously lingering deathbed farewell of “Hymnal” and lived-in, love-in nostalgia of “Take Me Back” lend a throbbing urgency to the insistent, intravenously wanton “Palm Tree Fire”.
Self-written and produced, two of The Belt’s 11 songs were also mixed by Gail and Jacob, with others handled by John Congleton (St. Vincent, David Byrne), Pete Min (Airborne Toxic Event), Lasse Mårtén (Lykke Li, Peter, Bjorn & John), and Dave Sardy (Oasis, Band of Horses).
Personified by “Peaches”’ sunlight-through-the-eyelids abandon and cult-ish caress, The Belt is that most elusive of records: arcane, authentic, and effortlessly resonant across cultures and eras.
Though the duo’s bond is uniquely theirs, we are all In The Valley Below.