Random Rules: Andrew Rieger of Elf Power

Random Rules: Andrew Rieger of Elf Power

The shuffler: Created as part of the Athens, Georgia-based Elephant 6 musicians' collective, Elf Power initially blended Dungeons & Dragons imagery with psychedelic pop. On more recent albums like 2006's Back To The Web, songwriter Andrew Rieger left the elves behind for a set of folky power-pop. Between tours, Elf Power is working on a Web follow-up and backing fellow Athenian Vic Chesnutt on his new disc.

John Fahey, "Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning"

Andrew Rieger: He's a guitarist from the '60s. This is from his album Old Fashioned Love. He mostly plays finger-picked acoustic style, but on this one, he plays with some jazz musicians. It's a lot different than his usual solo guitar thing, but it's good, it's interesting. It's not one of my favorite of his albums, but it's definitely different in the canon of John Fahey.

Marc Bolan, "Sara Crazy Child"

AR: I'm a huge T. Rex and Marc Bolan fan. This album, The Beginning Of Doves, is [from] the early era, when it was still called Tyrannosaurus Rex. It's just pretty awesome. I love the electric T. Rex stuff, but I actually prefer this earlier stuff, where it's just him playing acoustic and kind of howling and beating on bongos. It's really primitive and hippie-sounding.

Kitty Wells, "Mommy For A Day"

AR: Gosh, I don't know this that well. She's an old country singer. I think this is a song about a divorced mother who gets to come visit her kids for a day. Kind of a sad, tearjerker song, but, honestly, I don't remember that much more about it.

Galaxie 500, "Here She Comes Now"

AR: This is a Velvet Underground cover. I love them. Gosh, I'm trying to remember this version… I can't really remember how it goes. I'm sure it's slower and dreamier than the Velvet Underground version.

Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band, "Big Black Baby Shoes"

AR: That's a good one. Safe As Milk is one of the earlier Captain Beefheart albums, before he got really way out there with Trout Mask Replica.

The A.V. Club: He's still doing straight-ahead bluesy stuff.

AR: Yeah! I like Safe As Milk a lot, because it's kind of a traditional blues-rock record, but there are moments of total, maniacal abandon, where you can tell what's coming. [Laughs.] You can catch a glimpse of the crazy stuff later, but it's still more rooted in the traditional rock.

Orange Twin Field Works, "Untitled"

AR: This is actually our label, Orange Twin. It's an album that we put out with Jeff Mangum from Neutral Milk Hotel—he went to Bulgaria and did field recordings at the Bulgarian Folk Music Festival. The album's just called Orange Twin Field Works, and it's just one long, 35-minute song, so there isn't really a song title. He recorded a lot of music there, and pieced it together in a sound collage.

AVC: Do you think that style of folk music plays into your own songwriting?

AR: Yeah, I love European folk music like that. And I do try to emulate some of their sounds, in my own naïve way.

fIREHOSE, "The Candle And The Flame"

AR: Everybody loves Minutemen and talks about how great they were, and I love them too, but I think fIREHOSE is equally as good as their Minutemen stuff, and it doesn't really get as much recognition. This song particularly had kind of an R.E.M.-like jangly pop flavor.

AVC: fIREHOSE loved to tease R.E.M., though. Remember that song—

AR: Oh yeah, "For The Singer Of R.E.M." [Laughs.] I forgot about that. Yeah, but I think they kind of liked it, probably, even though they were kind of making fun of them.