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Good night Elephants

Tacoma's finiest indie export slips into something a little more comfortable - a new name

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All good things come to an end.

And so it is with Tacoma’s favorite indie sons, the Elephants.

But wait, before you get all emo, look for powerful intoxicants to dull the pain and start calling your therapist to discuss a new episode of suicidal urges, know this: the Elephants — as a band name — has ceased to be. But the actual band — made up of Cody Jones, Trevor Dickson, BJ Robertson and Kyle Brunette — is going stronger than ever.

They’re just called the Nightgowns now. Things change. Surely, with time, you’ll be able to adjust, Tacoma.

The music makes it easy. There’s good reason the Elephants — a band that originally formed in 2004 with Jason Freet (he of the Drug Purse) filling the creative space between Jones and Dickson — catapulted into the ears and hearts of Tacoma’s budding indie rock scene. It’s because they’re legit — and very good. And they’ve maintained that goodness, even after Freet’s departure. The songs the Elephants wrote fit no niche, and the sound the band became known for — while staying true to a certain twee-popish, garage, electronically enhanced aesthetic — was constantly morphing and shape-shifting.

From this point forward, you can expect nothing but the same and more from the Nightgowns, who will take their new moniker for a spin, as well as raise money for a new album slated to be released as early as late February, this Friday at the Warehouse in Tacoma. According to Jones, the event will be like a “house party” or “private party that everyone is invited to.”

“We made the decision to change the name a while back, when Jason (Freet) quit. It was a long time coming,” explains Jones of the name change. “It’s a way to differentiate ourselves a little.”

Still, Jones admits, “We kind of expected people to be disappointed, or at least bummed.”
More than the departure of Freet, the fact that there are a number of bands across the world named “the Elephants,” coupled with Jones and Dickson’s evolution as songwriters, has made the decision to change names an easy one to understand. As record companies come sniffing at the feet of Tacoma’s most loved indie commodity, it would be helpful if they didn’t share a name with about 17 other bands from Canada to Timbuktu.

“I think we’re not the same band entirely,” says Jones of the band’s progression from the original Freet, Jones, Dickson threesome to the Nightgowns of today. “I think a lot of people used to show up at our shows partially because they liked us, but also just to see how drunk we’d get. There are definitely more things we can do now.”

And one of those things is produce a new record, which the band considers their best work to date — and work that, hopefully, will garner a little record label attention for the only band I know called the Nightgowns.

“We went crazy in the studio a little, and didn’t worry about whether we’d necessarily be able to play some of the songs live,” says Jones of the Nightgown’s forthcoming record — which if all goes as it should at Friday’s album fund-raiser at the Warehouse will soon be mastered and ready for consumption. “I think people will be surprised by the professional quality. We spent a little more time on it. We really want to shop it around.”

If there’s a smart record label left, someone will bite. The Elephants, err, Nightgowns, have too much talent and charm to be only Tacoma’s.

Whatever you call them, the Nightgowns are as first-rate as this town has to offer — and that’s pretty fucking good.

[The Warehouse, with DJ Cranapple, includes a raffle, Friday, Jan. 9, 9 p.m., $5, 1114 Court E, downtown Tacoma,]

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