Led by vocalist/guitarist Gary Olson, a onetime string stretcher and key inspector at his family's piano factory, indie pop unit the Ladybug Transistor debuted in 1996 with the LP Marlborough Farms, titled after Olson's Brooklyn-area home recording studio. After a lineup change that left only Olson and drummer Edward Powers remaining from the Ladybug Transistor's original roster, Saturnine guitarist Jennifer Baron and her bassist brother Jeff were recruited prior to recording 1997's Beverly Atonale, issued on Merge. After completing the LP, Powers exited and was replaced by Individual Fruit Pie drummer San Fadyl. The group's wonderful third album, The Albemarle Sound, which featured new member Sasha Bell on keyboards and vocals, followed in 1999. Both Bell and Jeff Baron were also members of neo-psych band the Essex Green at this time, as well as the alt-country outfit the Sixth Great Lake.
The Ladybug Transistor's next album, Argyle Heir, with its indie kitsch stylings, was released in spring 2001. After losing Jennifer Baron and gaining Julia Rydholm, the band decamped to Arizona to record its next album, The Ladybug Transistor (2003), with Calexico producer Craig Schumacher. More lineup changes followed as Bell left the band and Jeff Baron became more of a satellite member. The band stayed fairly quiet for a couple years as the lineup sorted itself out, and Olson spent time producing other artists. They returned in 2006 with the Here Comes the Rain EP and followed up with the excellent Can't Wait Another Day, which was released in June 2007 by Merge. The lineup for the album added keyboardist Kyle Forester and guitarist Ben Crum of Great Lakes.
Sadly, mere weeks before the release of the album, drummer San Fadyl, a beloved figure in the indie rock community, passed away due to complications from severe asthma. Before recording its next album, the group's lineup shifted again with guitarists Michael O'Neill and Mark Dzula and drummer Eric Farber added to the core of Olson, Rydholm, and Forester. The band's seventh studio LP, Clutching Stems, was released in June of 2011. ~ Jason Ankeny & Tim Sendra