Vocalist/banjoist Sam Simkoff leads the indie rock collective Le Loup, whose six members combine varied instruments and full-band harmonies to create an orchestrated, experimental sound. Simkoff spent the latter half of 2006 indoors, using his home computer to record the music that would soon constitute Le Loup's debut album. Featuring hypnotic loops, banjo riffs, and lyrics inspired by Dante's Inferno, the songs attracted the attention of several other Washington, D.C., residents. By January, Simkoff had assembled an expansive lineup comprised of Jim Thomson (guitar), May Tabol (guitar), Robert Sahm (percussion), Dan Ryan (bass, percussion), Nicole Keenan (keyboards, French horn), Mike Ferguson (guitar), and intermittent member Christian Ervin (programming, guitar). The new band immediately attracted attention from Sub Pop Records, whose founder, Jonathan Poneman, flew east to attend one of Le Loup's earliest shows. By spring 2007, Le Loup had signed with the Sub Pop imprint Hardly Art, becoming the second band on the upstart label's roster.
Simkoff's bedroom recordings were subsequently mastered, and The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations' Millennium Assembly marked Le Loup's official debut in September 2007. Tabol and Keenan left the lineup ten months later, Ervin signed on as a permanent member, and the revised group continued to tour while working on new material, much of which emphasized acoustic instrumentation and vocal harmonies. Le Loup returned home in early 2009 to work on a sophomore album. Recording sessions took place in a mountainside cabin and a city basement, with Simkoff and Ervin handling production duties themselves. The resulting Family was released that September, featuring Le Loup's full lineup for the first time on record. It also expanded the sound of Nations' Millennium Assembly, emphasizing the singing talents of multiple members while making room for a lush mix of tribal, rural, and urban sounds. ~ Andrew Leahey