EYEBEAMS - Lonely Sea
(2005 The Meth Lab)
Lonely Sea is one of those albums that are difficult to explain, partly because there is so little information on the band; no direct website, no real background. I was at a loss, for the most part, until I found the letter they included with their disc when they submitted it for review. Makes a reviewer’s job a little difficult, but really makes a potential fan’s job difficult. On the other hand, Eyebeams are part of hip collective called OODAgroup, which stands for Observation, Orientation, Decision, Action, and is comprised of artists of various callings including sculpture, literature, performance art and video production. Eyebeams are known to use nine self-made videos on as many televisions to add a multimedia element to their performances, definitely the direction of live music. If you don’t know about them, maybe you’re just not cool enough.
Eyebeams’ music can best be summed up as gorgeous pop arrangements; succinct tunes that beg numerous comparisons. This is good because Lonely Sea is immensely listenable, but not so good because Eyebeams could easily be confused with the Strokes, Radiohead or Oasis, depending on which track you’re listening to. The Brit-inflected vocals of Michael Sienkowski, who also wrote all the music here and plays drums and keys, will make you think you’re listening to rare outtakes from across the pond. Though the album contains fourteen cuts, only three of these break the three-minute mark. No fluff here, just inspired, hard-hitting art-pop.
The most direct Strokes comparison comes in the form of “Key for You,” a robust, lively tune that nails the Strokes completely, right down to the megaphone EQ-ing on the vocals. For Radiohead, try “For Then I Saw You,” which would sound right at home on OK, Computer. The lead-off track, “My Old Friend,” is addicting. Another standout is “Bring the Moon to Me,” a driving and beautifully constructed song.
Make no mistake-this is an excellent album, and having the chops to imitate bands like Radiohead while composing original works is no easy feat. The mix here is incredible; the production was done by Jayson Blare and Skrabble, perhaps best known for their work with the Crest. Jonathon Ewell joined the two producers in engineering the tracks. Rhythm tracks were cut at Sector Five Studios and the rest at the Meth Lab. The cover art and design of Lonely Sea is exceptional and looks like a classic from the ECM label, which at once says “serious music.” You cannot hear this CD and not be curious about checking out a live performance. Eyebeams seem to have just one leap left to take and that is discovering a sound that is truly their own. On the other hand, sounding like the child prodigy produced by the union of the Strokes and Radiohead may be all they need.