Elf Power's greatest strengths are new projects; an ever-changing, psychedelic sound; and knowing when to take breaks 

Elf Power with Wurly Birds
9 p.m. Monday
Opolis
113 N. Crawford, Norman
www.opolis.org
447-3417
$8 advance, $10 door
$10 advance, $12 door under 21

Longevity is hard to come by, especially in the realm of independent music.

Buzzed-about bands fizzle before full debuts even appear, and if groups can't keep things new, fresh and exciting, they fall out of vogue quicker than you can say Tapes 'n Tapes.

All this makes Elf Power's, well, staying power all the more impressive.

The band formed in Athens, Ga., in 1994 and released its debut album a year later. With its 11th album released last month, Elf Power has never been afraid to switch things up, but it's also armed with an X factor a lot of acts don't have: coming up through the iconic Elephant 6 collective.

Elephant 6 was a recording company that supported some of the brightest artists of the 1990s, including Neutral Milk Hotel and Beulah. Other acts " like Of Montreal and The Apples in Stereo, along with Elf Power " have remained relevant to this day, and lead singer Andrew Rieger contributes this to a simple fact.

"The songs were good," he said. "The bands had good songs, and I think that's all that matters."

While some of those bands fizzled out around the turn of the millennium, Elf Power's members keep plugging away for two reasons: They aren't afraid of taking a break, and they aren't afraid of change.

"We do get burnt out sometimes, but we'll just take breaks in between," Rieger said. "That's the key to our longevity, that we do take long breaks from time to time, and with each member having other projects, our lives don't solely have to revolve around this band."

Keeping things interesting is key, and interesting often comes with doing something new. Elf Power endeared itself to fans with its psychedelic pop, but has continued to tinker with the formula, making sure no two recordings sound too much alike. It's not always just messing with the music; it's sometimes about changing with how it's heard and performed.

Over the latter part of the 2000s, Elf Power began experimenting with new media and presentations, including recording a cover album, collaborating with the late Vic Chesnutt twice, and even taking part in the Elephant 6 Holiday Surprise Tour " which included members of Olivia Tremor Control, The Music Tapes and Jeff Mangum " in which each outfit acted as one another's backing ensemble.

But the group's newest venture is the most interesting: a short film titled "Major Organ and the Adding Machine." Inspired by the secretive Elephant 6 supergroup and mysterious debut album in 2001, it was directed by drummer Eric Harris, stars Rieger, and will screen before the band's Monday show at Opolis.

"It took a long time to go from the initial idea to fruition, but it's fun to dabble in different mediums," Rieger said. "You are never the master at everything, but it's fun to try your hand."

Looking ahead, Rieger said Elf Power will do more projects of this sort and will participate in another Elephant 6 tour in early 2011. And while the band is focused on touring as of now, he said they're looking forward to recording the next album, and rest assured, it won't be the same old thing.

"I'd like to try something new, something different," he said. "It just remains to be seen what that will be." "Joshua Boydston

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