Eyes and Flys

Reviews

Eyes and Flys / Nervous Tick and the Zipper Lips The Covid Collaborations: Vol. IV cassette

NERVOUS TICK AND THE ZIPPER LIPS is a solo recording project of MRR cassette reviewer extraordinaire Eric “Biff” Bafaro, and this is the fourth and final volume of his COVID Collaborations series. The deal with said series is that Mr. TICK invites another musician (generally a fellow Rust Belter) to join him in providing an original song, a cover of one of the other artist’s tracks, and vocals (and maybe lyrics) for a song written by the other artist. Here the collaborator is Buffalo musician (now out of Long Beach) EYES AND FLYS. The ZIPPER LIPS original is a jaunty garage-pop/lite-hardcore number with some sci-fi new wave touches—sounds like a Red Snerts track mashed up with Another Wasted Night-era GANG GREEN. I’m into it! The EYES AND FLYS original “Drive Slow,” not unlike the KANYE WEST track of the same name, is built atop a tight little sample of an obscure-ish classic—in this case, the INTELLIGENCE’s “Garbage in Garbage Out”—and ends up being a woozy lo-fi dirge. Also cool! I’m not familiar enough with either original these covers are based on, but the end results are fine enough. The two true collaborations are probably the most interesting tracks on the release (which isn’t to say they’re the best!). “I Need Time,” a ZIPPER LIPS track with EYES AND FLYS on vocals, is a druggy downer punk number that reminds me of LIFE STINKS. It’s maybe my favorite track on here. Then there’s “I Believe in Science Fiction.” EYES AND FLYS lays down a jangly psych track—complete with a harsh raygun organ outro!—and Lou Koller…I mean NERVOUS TICK croaks on about Captain Kirk and wanting to be blasted out into space or whatever. It’s certainly something! Anyway, both the concept and execution here are fun, and I wish more artists did stuff like this.

Eyes and Flys Manic AM cassette

This is the kind of gloriously “all over the place’” sound that comes along a little less frequently in a world where every band seems determined to emulate a specific sound (or worse, a specific band). From a foundation of jangly pop, EYES AND FLYS conjure a series of decidedly weird and undeniably unique tracks. Occasional OH SEES vibes, and I can’t help but think that this might be a Matty Luv side project in an alternate universe, and there’s an underlying REV (MERCURY) and/or FANCLUB (TEENAGE) sonic sensibility, with tunes that range from reverb-drenched bombastic sonic slammers to quiet and ever-so-slightly twisted quiet missives. Most notably, Manic AM held me tight from start to finish—I actively wanted to know what they were going to do next—and in a society filled with unnecessary stimuli, that might be the most powerful endorsement of all. “Go to bed high / Wake up in the dirt.” Excellent.

Eyes and Flys I Don’t Care Where You’ve Been, I’m Just Glad That You’re Home / Buffalo 7″

I wouldn’t want to say this is particularly punk per se, but it’s definitely not indie rock in the modern sense. Indie currently tends to be a polished, neatly-made, safe and starched pop music for people who probably rent those new condos in your city. This EYES AND FLYS 7” (their second within a year) is more slanted (and enchanted) towards ye olde ’90s college rock, and I’m sure the folks involved have spent considerable time with their SEBADOH, GUIDED BY VOICES, and ARCHERS OF LOAF records on repeat. It’s got that dusty, woolen lo-fi sound down pat—layers of guitar, with bright jangle strumming under a crunchy morass of distortion emanating from tweed-covered amps, with a light thump of drums to keep the beat. It was probably recorded on an eight-track inside a drafty house in the fall or early winter, probably while wearing scarfs and knit caps. The melodies peer through the murk and its sincerity stands hand-in-hand with its sneer.

Eyes and Flys Asbestos Fiber in a Sunbeam / Sad Labor 7″

There’s something about the title “Asbestos Fiber in a Sunbeam” that makes me happy. The picture I have in my mind is somewhat uplifting, and I really need that these days. The song is a rollicking, fuzzy stomper. It’s energizing. “Sad Labor” is slower with a lilting off-kilter quality that grows to sound big and expansive, then ends with the guitar just strumming slowly. I like this a lot.

Eyes and Flys Anxiety Tools / God’s Management 7″

Seeing as this is their fourth 7″ in just over twelve months, EYES AND FLYS have certainly kept busy during the past year. And while I respect their work ethic, these guys’ music hasn’t quite hit the target for yours truly. EYES AND FLYS walk a strange borderland between partly-sunny near-goth and overcast garage-strum (a place called Buffalo, actually). Forsaking the punkier direction of the preceding singles, there’s an implied darkness and gloominess to these tunes, but it never settles into something truly compelling. The songcraft is definitely there, as you’ve got acoustic guitars and extra percussion jingles and jangles, but it remains on the other side of the river, just waving at me and there’s no thought of attempting a crossing. The B-side is some sort of heartland rock instrumental that wouldn’t be out of place on anything from a TOM PETTY record to a ’90s indie-emo platter on Caulfield Records. On the insert, in addition to the nice old-school touch of a phone number for contact, there is the inscription: “Getting by two songs at a time.” It’s a nice sentiment, but I think it’s time to make an album where this material might congeal into something worthy of its ambition.

Eyes and Flys New Way to Get It EP

Are you wistful for, like, 2009? You know, the halcyon days when lo-fi garage pop and shitgaze ruled the (Myspace) airwaves, “Be My Baby” drum beats were de rigueur, your local Sparks and Four Loko-littered basement might host a bill of PSYCHEDELIC HORSESHIT and the BARBARAS, and your favorite band’s latest release could be put out by a hip economy car company? If so, have I got a release for you! To be fair, EYES AND FLYS, a recording project out of Buffalo, is a little more BLACK TIME (good!) than WAVVES (bad!), and it’s not like they’re singing about pizza parties or fake dance crazes. Really, it’s a solid take on this kind of sound. But it’s a sound that nevertheless reminds me of a feel-good time that doesn’t quite match the world’s current tenor. It makes it tough for me to enjoy. But that’s more on me than it is these tunes, which I suspect would have appealed to pre-doomer me. So, give it a listen!

Eyes and Flys Everyday Life / Wait for the Sun 7″

A record of two halves, each as enjoyable as it is different. “Everyday Life” is a blown-out, mid-paced garage schlock downer, while the flip is a quirky, scratchy acoustic guitar-driven dirge with tweaked-out vocals and an earworm melody. Could be a one-off, could be your next DIY bedroom SWELL MAPS/BUTTHOLES/NO TREND heroes?

Eyes and Flys Coastal Access / Black Flowers 7″

This band is a mystery to me in credentials and style. They come from Buffalo and play an earnest melding of classic rock and 100 FLOWERS-style reverbed artiness. Unfortunately the atonal vocal style is distracting and not too pleasant. Musically, it’s an intriguing listen and exudes a dark, paisley-coated dreariness with lyrics that border on poetic. A beautifully silkscreened cover envelopes it perfectly—all back and covered in flowers. I maybe could see them on a bill with COME HOLY SPIRIT but I’m just not so crazy about those vocals.

Eyes and Flys Eyes and Flys / Fall Asleep with the TV On 7″

Debut record from this Buffalo, NY one-man band. The theme song is a distorted, stomping rocker. Repetitive, pained vocals lend a nice sound to the straightforward musical track. “Fall Asleep with the TV On” is a slow, droney tune with acoustic guitar and lulling vocals. It could easily put you to sleep, TV on or off. Cool stuff.