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Archive for the ‘Nap Eyes’ Category

[POSTPONED: May 20, 2020] Nap Eyes / Lionlimb

indexI just saw Nap Eyes open for Destroyer (the last show I saw before the quarantining).

They put on a terrific show and had Ryley Walker playing guitar for them.

I’m not sure who was supposed to play guitar for them on this show.  I was really hoping it would be their actual guitarist Brad Loughead, but Ryley Walker would be great too.

Maybe when they reschedule (which I sure hope they do Loughead will be free to play with them.

I had not heard of Lionlimb.  They are a duo who play timeless chill out music.  I’m not entirely sure how much fun they would be live, but their recorded music is pretty great.

 

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[ATTENDED: March 8, 2020] Nap Eyes

I saw Nap Eyes open for Alvvays nearly three years ago.  I was mesmerized by their mix of deadpan, melody and noise.  Since then I’ve really enjoyed their first two albums.  I missed their third one entirely somehow, but I was really looking forward to seeing them again.

I was especially looking forward to watching guitarist Brad Loughead because he managed to play really pretty melodies and then fill them awash with all kinds of distortion.  It had been three years since I’d seen them, but when they came out on stage I looked at Loughead and though, wow, he looks an awful lot like Ryley Walker.

Well, sure enough, it WAS Ryley Walker, whom I had just seen him on New Year’s Eve doing some wild improvisational guitar playing. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: February 29, 2020] Slaughter Beach, Dog

I had heard, vaguely, of Slaughter Beach, Dog but I didn’t know anything about them.  So I was really surprised that a band with a name like that wound up playing quiet folky music.

The band was a three piece, but aside from singer guitarist Jake Ewald, I don’t know who else was on stage.

I found out after the show that Ewald was previously the singer/guitarist for Modern Baseball, a band I’d heard of but didn’t know.  I also read that Ian Farmer, bassist for Modern Baseball played on the latest Slaughter Beach, Dog album.  But I’m not sure if that was him on stage.

So they came out on stage, and Jake Ewald was soft spoken and funny.  Had I known he had been a front man for so long, I wouldn’t have assumed he seemed a little nervous or shy up there.  Perhaps that’s just the persona for Slaughter Beach, Dog (I have no idea what he was like for Modern Baseball).

They played about seven or eight or ten songs. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: NAP EYES-“Mark Zuckerberg” (2020).

I really like Nap Eyes.  Their blend of deadpan singing combined with seriously rocking guitars makes a fantastic collection of quirky indie rock.

The earlier songs were lyrically introspective like:

But it’s easy to understand
What it is that makes me feel this way
It’s not so easy to make
All of my problems go away
Then again what else is there—

This newest song seems to go in a very different direction:

Is Mark Zuckerberg a ghost?
Maybe, maybe
Where are his hands?
And why don’t you ever see them public?

And what does he do with all that sand?
He collects sand, right?
I think I read that somewhere (Seems innocent enough).

It’s not clear if there’s any message in the song.  But when it is sung in Nigel Chapman’s melodic deadpan, it make the lyrics seem much more serious.

The melody is so incredibly catchy–a simple guitar riff completed by a distorted guitar riff following along.  It feels quiet and loud at the same time.

The middle part (about the sand) slows things down with a wonderfully haunting guitar lick.  Then the song returns to the fast opening riff once more.

Then the boys in a park are singing a beautiful sweet refrain of “transcendence is all around us.”

What a fantastic song that goes in several different directions all in less than three minutes.

The video is pretty great too.

[READ: January 20, 2020] Giant Days Vol. 7

It has been such a treat reading these Giant Days books in a row like this.  This story works so well when you don’t have gaps in between.

The book starts at Christmas time.  And it is time to meet Susan Ptolemy’s brood of a family.

In Chapter 25, first we meet Bobbie who picks Susan up at the bus station.  Bobbie sets the tone letting us know that Susan is the baby and that she and the other sisters all have lives of their own.  They don’t have time to worry about their parents–they can deal with their own problems.  Susan walks into her house and is immediately a little girl again because “six older sister is basically six deadly enemies who know everything about you.”

Susan calls her sisters to a pub to talk about their parents.  Btu they laugh at her that she just noticed how weird their parents are. Susan even tries to enlist the help of one her adorable nephews to encourage her parents to stay together..

Nothing seems to help and her parents are still fighting.  Until a woman with big frizzy hair and a child in a rucksack shows up at the door.  It is Susan’s sister Ellie, the prodigal daughter.  No one thought she would come for the holidays.  She crashes in and announces that she’s moving back home with her baby.  Esther asks if Susans’s parents “even feigned fury?”  Nope, they were just happy to have someone back in their house again.

Oh and, perhaps more importantly, Susan ran into McGraw on a night out.  But she was so drunk she doesn’t remember any of it.

Esther’s Christmas  was unusually eventful as her dad was out in the garden burning the living room carpet (we never find out why!!). (more…)

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815SOUNDTRACK: NAP EYES-Thought Rock Fish Scale (2016).

Nap Eyes’ second full album doesn’t deviate too much from their first, although the songwriting has gotten stronger and the band branches out in small ways.

I love the simple but effective bass throb that runs though “Mixer.”  The lead guitar isn’t quite as noisy as on the previous, but the song doesn’t suffer from the lack.  Overall the song, and the album, feels more immediate, which is a good thing.

“Stargazer” is catchy right from the get go–a simple but cool guitar riff and some nice rumbling bass.  And after the first verse, the second guitar plays a nice harmony of that immediately catchy riff.  Plus, the lyrics feel even more pointed:

I have seen people go by me with such
Determination that it’s sick
I’d like to go the places they don’t know how to get to
But I can’t remember the trick
So I wait around and venomously crown myself
Serpent king of my sins
But if I go down I’m not taking you with me
It’s only myself in the end

“Lion in Chains” has a very Velvet Underground feel, in the best way–Nigel’s voice is closer and clearer and the it’s great the way deadpan chorus soars as he tries to keep it tethered.  I also love the interesting/mundane way he songs about things: “here at the arcade I spent about 45,000 dimes.”

“Don’t Be Right” changes the tone quite a bit–a loud plucked guitar and smooth bass push the song along quite briskly until the chorus slows things down with the wry observation: “Don’t be right – it isn’t good for you / You may not realize it, but it’s not / When you’re right, you barely know what to do / Just sit around thinking and cry a lot.”

“Click Clack” has a smooth opening which shifts after two verses into a loud jangling chord with a Lou Reed via Morrissey delivery:

Sometimes drinking I feel so happy / but then I can’t remember why / I feel sad all over again // sometimes drinking I don’t know my best friend for my best friend

and then it resumes with the most Lou Reed delivery yet

The longest song on the album is “Alaskan Shake.”  It has an almost country feel–a one-two bass line and a lead guitar played with a slide.  Around four minutes the song shifts directions briefly with some loud chords but then it shifts back with that loud slide guitar.

“Roll It” is a faster song, although the tempo slow down half way through is really striking.  It’s even more so when it seems to double down on that tempo change after another verse.  You almost don’t want the song to resume the fats tempo, but I like that way it wraps back up on itself to end.

The album (shorter than the first) ends with the two and a half-minute “Trust.”  Even though this album is shorter, it explores a lot more terrain and is a wonderful step from the first.

The band has a new album coming out next month.  I’m really curious to see what direction they go in especially since the new album cover looks very different from these first two.

[READ: July 21, 2015] “The Course of Happiness”

This was the 2015 New Yorker fiction issue.  It featured several stories and several one-page essays from writers I like.  The subject this time was “Time Travel.”

Erdrich takes time travel in an entirely unexpected way.  She says that being from the midwest she should probably  imagine all the good she could do if she could time travel–vaccinating people against old-world diseases or killing a young Hitler, but she says that all of that is too much to consider. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKNAP EYES-Whine of the Mystic (2015).

Nap Eyes opened for Alvvays and although we only caught half of their set, I really enjoyed it.  Lead singer Nigel Chapman, had a kind of deadpan Lou Reed spoken delivery (with an extra affectation–perhaps something to do with being from Halifax?).  The drums were thumping and spare and the guitar played a mixture of pretty melodies and squalling feedback.

The songs are pretty minimal musically.   Bassist Josh Salter and drummer Seamus Dalton keep the rhythm steady with occasional grace notes from Salter.  It’s really the work of guitarist Brad Loughead that stands out–in addition to Chapman’s lyrics of course.

A comment on the lyrics from the bandcamp site:

Throughout the record, workaday details punctuate (and puncture) cosmic concerns, as Nigel wrestles with air and angels, struggling (and often failing) to reconcile the Romantic rifts, both real and imagined, that define our lives: between chaos and order (or wilderness and paradise, as in “Tribal Thoughts”); solipsism and fellowship (“Dreaming Solo” vs. “Oh My Friends”); the anxiety of social (dis)orders both big and small (“The Night of the First Show”; “No Man Needs to Care”); and the various intersections and oppositions of religion, art, and science (“Dark Creedence” and “Make Something.”) 

This first album (after several EPs with great song titles) pretty much plays that template right out of the gate–the guitars do squall with feedback,but it is kind of low on the mix–disturbing the silence but not overwhelming it.

“Dark Credence” is pretty much the same thing repeated for four minutes but the way it builds with more intense drumming and ever noisier guitar feedback is great.  “Make Something” is a slower song that adds some interesting lead guitar notes as the song nears its end.

“Tribal Thoughts” is the first song that really stands out.  It’s faster paced, with a spirited, plucked melody.  Chapman is a bit more emotive and by the end the lead guitar has really taken off.  There’s some interesting lyrics in this song too, imagine singing slowly in deadpan: “I hear the beat against the slow lines / The lines i wrote / I never write them down anymore / fuck iiiiiiiiiiiiiiitttttttttt

“Delirium and Persecution Paranoia” is a 7 minute drone of a song that really doesn’t change much.  It makes you focus on the impenetrable words:

Round the inner core rocks / the outer core flows / but while the outer core cools / the inner core grows / the loaded sun sends out heat and light and deadly magnetic radiation  /  What you gonna do / the human race / when the solar wind through the magnetosphere is breaking  / Most of us down here lying down for years / sleeping the night away / some of us try but never survive /  stay up whole night and day  //  My friend once told me about a rare insomniac’s condition / sleeps not one minute a day but feels 20 minutes of pain and blurry vision.

And I just love the amusingly desperate end:

Oh baby, all I need is another second chance
Oh baby, all I need is another twenty-five second chance
Oh baby, all I need is another two-hundred and fifty-second chance
Oh baby, all I need is another two-hundred and fifty thousand second chance

“No Man Needs to Care” is a faster song with a nice circular guitar riff.  What does no man need to care about? “No man needs to care about another man’s hair.”

“Dreaming Solo” slows things down again, and then there’s two shorter somewhat poppier (but still angsty) songs.  “The Night of the First Show” is a delightful dark (lyrically) but perky (musically) take about what I gather was the first Nap Eyes show.  “Oh My Friends” is another slow, short song.  The short ones are so different from the droning quality of the longer ones.  Like the album closer “No Fear of Hellfire,” another 7-minute song.  It opens with ringing guitars and propulsive bass.  “Sunday morning only comes around once, these days.”  And the chorus: No feel of hellfire makes me feel good.”

[READ: November 15, 2017] “Chasing Waterfalls”

This is the second story I’ve read by Krasznahorkai (this Hungarian story was translated by John Batki).

Of his previous story I wrote:

This is the kind of story that makes me wonder why someone would write about the things they do.  Not because it’s bad or not worth writing about, I just can’t imagine where the idea came from.

This was a challenging story for me to read because there are no paragraph breaks (and I love my paragraph breaks).  It is just an endless stream of prose.

This one isn’t quite as out-of-thin-air, but it’s a pretty peculiar story nonetheless. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 6, 2017] Nap Eyes

Sarah and I were excited to see Alvvays again.  We saw them open for The Decemberists and it is always great to see a band as a headliner–especially when you can get up nice and close.

We hadn’t heard of Nap Eyes but we wanted to make sure we arrived early to get a good spot.  And I’m so glad we did.  Nap Eyes is a four piece from Halifax, Nova Scotia consisting of vocalist Nigel Chapman, guitarist Brad Loughead, bassist Josh Salter and drummer Seamus Dalton.

Between the tone of the band and Chapman’s vocal delivery, there was a distinct Velvet Underground vibe.   But II joked it was like they had given up the heroin.  Because the songs had a faster tempo, a number of time changes, and some rocking guitar solos. (more…)

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