EYELIDS have a collective history of creating music for some of the most legendary indie songwriters. These longtime Portland, Oregon collaborators were not only the principal instrumentalists for Robert Pollard's post Guided By Voices band Boston Spaceships for over eight releases, but they have also worked with Stephen Malkmus, The Decemberists, Elliott Smith, Sam Coomes of Quasi, Black Prairie, Jason Lytle of Grandaddy, Loch Lomond, Damien Jurado and Peter Buck (who is producing their upcoming EP this Fall).
Principal songwriters John Moen and Chris Slusarenko have turned inwards to their loves of New Zealand/Flying Nun guitar buzz, their teenage L.A. Paisley Underground obsessions, haunts of early Athens and all things beautiful, lopsided and rock. Along with members Jonathan Drews (guitar), Jim Talstra (bass) and Paulie Pulvirenti (drums) they push and pull against each other's songwriting, in a beautiful tension that just works. Their critically celebrated debut 7” SEAGULLS INTO SUBMISSION got airplay everywhere from BBC Radio to WFMU and was also included in MOJO Magazine's Editors Picks of The Month. This single, as well as the accompanying video, is just a hint of what EYELIDS are all about.
With 13 songs, most of them clocking in at less than 2 1/2 minutes, their debut album ‘854’ is full of what EYELIDS describes as “sweet melodies and bummer vibes”. ‘854’ makes us remember when our favorite songs were both melancholy and buoyant—those same songs that could make you feel justifiably sad and later make you feel incredibly happy and empowered. That’s what these guys are onto. And, although they are on their own trip, they’ve been compared to Love, Dinosaur Jr., Big Star, and even early R.E.M. Good company. This is the spirit that comes alive in EYELIDS songs: the Beatles meets Television jangle of “Psych #1,” the wistful pleas of “Abby’s Friends,” the beat-your-head-on-the-dashboard croon of “Forget About Tomorrow” and the deserted desperate cries that propel “Say It's Alright”. And as you listen, you will soon find out that Eyelids’ music is seriously catchy, haunting and uniquely their own.
Jay Gonzalez of the band Drive-by Truckers has more in common with polished sounds of The Beatles and The Beach Boys in his solo efforts than he does with the gritty, loud rock of his main employer. As this writer offered on Gonzalez’s first solo album, 2011’s Mess of Happiness – Gonzalez is an excellent translator. As you listen, you can’t help but hearken back to the hooks of great pop records—be it Billy Joel, Todd Rundgren, or the two aforementioned groups. In fact, According to Gonzalez, his inspiration is drawn from Paul McCartney’s“expansive vocal harmonies, multi-song suites, and bittersweet chord progressions. But a bit rawer.” So here he is once again reimagining the sound of classic A.M. radio through his own kaleidoscopic approach.
Again Gonzalez records in his adopted hometown of Athens, GA, and this time enlists some familiar names to longtime DBT fans, Matt Lane (drums) and John Neff (pedal steel guitar) along with an old friend, drummer Joe Rowe (The Glands). Gonzalez of course can play any keyboard or guitar. Although his vocal opportunities in the DBTs are of the supporting background variety, he steps out confidently on the lead vocals, showing some improvement from his first solos effort. From the straight-ahead pop of “(I Wanna) Hold You” and the buoyant “Trampoline” to the emotional Robin Gibb tribute, “Crying Through The Wall,” the album is a fun-filled pop excursion, imbued with adventurous arrangements and timeless song writing. Many of these songs would be equally at home in the ‘60s or ‘70s.