Formed in San Jose California by founding members Lee Elliott and Jeff Tracy in the late 1980s, the two soon found themselves in Austin in 1992. After going through several line ups, the first recording line-up included vocalist John McElhenney and drummer Barry Simon. Several years worth of shows eventually yielded their initial self-titled release, 'Blue Cartoon' in 1997. This was produced by Ron Flynt 20/20 (band) and mixed by former Carole King guitarist, Mark Hallman at The Congress House studio.
1999 saw the release of their sophomore effort, ‘Downtown Shangri-La’. However, after returning from playing shows in California, John informed the band of his decision to leave the band to pursue a solo career. John formed the band "Buzzie", and the search was on for a new vocalist.
In March 2000, L.A. transplant David Loren was chosen as the new vocalist. With the short-lived addition of guitarist John Valadez, the band spent two years working on their third album. 'The Wonder Of It All'. This was released in August 2003 and found the band experimenting with subtle textures and forms, bringing an ‘art‘ element that flavors their particular brand of power-pop.
Blue Cartoon’s line-up would go through a few more changes before settling on the unit that would record their fourth effort, ‘September Songs’. This line-up moved Lee from bass to guitar and the band brought in Alan Vassberg on bass. Twenty-four songs were recorded for the album, which took longer to complete than any of their previous efforts. The band also took several breaks from the sessions to play shows, most significantly a trip to England which included a gig at the The Cavern Club in Liverpool. ‘September Songs’ was released in Oct 2006. The thirteen tracks that made the release of ‘September Songs’ showcased a folkier side of Blue Cartoon, so the gigs to support ‘September Songs’ were acoustic guitar oriented and presented in order to keep with the ‘Laurel Canyon’ singer/songwriter vibe of the album.
In early 2007, the remaining members of Blue Cartoon decided a break was needed and placed the band on an indefinite hiatus. Jeff released his first solo album ‘Moments In Time’ in 2007. In the meantime, David and Lee would begin a long recording project known as "The Spandrels", which explored English folk inspired arrangements accompanied by elements of psychedelia, eclectic instrumentation and a series of vocal duets.
By the later part of 2009, Lee, Jeff and David began to discuss and envision the return of Blue Cartoon with a desire to create a more psychedelic and progressive form of pop. Coincidentally, a correspondence that had begun with Houston power pop veteran Terry Carolan (guitar and keys), eventually led to a mutual audition that included drummer Mike Reynolds. With Lee back in the bass slot, the woodshedding began for a new album. Work on the album would be done in fits and starts over the next 2 years. The resulting album, ‘Are You Getting On?’ was released on March 12, 2013.
Unfortunately, due to personal and professional reasons, Terry left the band just prior to the release of their new album. To support the new release and forge ahead with new material, Lee moved back to guitar for good and the band selected Tim Winters for bass. When considering the heavy emphasis keys played in the arrangements on their new album, as well as the obvious directional shift in material, they recruited keyboardist, Brendan Rogers (The Alice Rose, Jodee and the Messengers) to round out the line-up.
- 1998 Blue Cartoon
- 1999 Downtown Shangri-La
- 2002 The Wonder of it All
- 2006 September Songs
- 2013 Are You Getting On?