Hailing from London, England, the High Llamas are a band with one mission in mind: to make beautiful pop music. Formed in 1992, the High Llamas have released six studio albums to date, along with a slew of EPs. From their debut with 1992's Santa Barbara, to their critically lauded Gideon Gaye, to their most recent effort on the Drag City label, Buzzle Bee, the Llamas' sound is melodic, densely layered, eclectic, and adroitly produced.
Much of the story of the High Llamas is the story of Sean O'Hagan. O'Hagan worked with Cathal Coughlan in the group Microdisney, formed in 1980, until the group disbanded in 1988. O'Hagan then released a solo effort titled High Llamas, the title and album cover of which came from a magazine picture of a Victorian hot-air balloon. In 1992, O'Hagan formed the High Llamas and recorded the Apricots EP. Mute Records took the four tracks on Apricots, added four more tracks, and released it as the High Llamas' debut full-length, Santa Barbara. Their next album Gideon Gaye met with high praise from critics upon its release in 1994. Since that time, the Llamas have been putting out great pop records on a fairly consistent basis.
Gideon Gaye and the High Llamas' subsequent releases have garnered for O'Hagan and his Llamas many a comparison to Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys. While this resemblance can certainly be heard in the High Llamas' unmistakeable harmonies and the cheery, light quality of their music, many other influences inform the Llamas' sound, including the work of Steely Dan, Ennio Morricone, Burt Bacharach, and Joao and Astrud Gilberto--as well as decidedly more "electronic" acts like Stereolab and Mouse on Mars. In fact, it is the fusion of such seemingly disparate genres as melodic '60s pop and modern electronic music that makes the High Llamas so compelling. They are assuredly a band to watch in the future.
The High Llamas are:
Sean O'Hagan - vocals, guitars
Marcus Holdaway - keyboards
Jon Fell - bass
Rob Allum - drums