Album: Black Eyes
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As the years pass, truly original music becomes more and more of a rare occurrence, as the general listening public seems to be becoming more satisfied with mediocre, copycat sounds that show no passion or imagination. In an era when recording your own music has become increasingly more accessible, one would think that there would be countless new bands and sounds popping up all over the place, and yet it is almost tragic to stand by and watch the opposite become reality. Thankfully, there are still a few record labels that pride themselves on finding creative, exciting bands, and even after thirty years, there is no more dependable a record label for this result than the iconic Dischord Records. Boasting bands that play across the musical spectrum, there are few groups over the past decade that have brought an energy or aggression that compares to the short-lived project known as Black Eyes. Taking the raw, in-your-face style of bands like Fugazi, there is a blunt, direct, and often almost overwhelming feel to the bands' music, and they stand as a band that is truly impossible to duplicate. Releasing their absolutely stunning self-titled debut in 2003, the band proved that "real" music was still alive, and there are few songs that better define the group than one finds in Black Eyes song form that album, "Deformative."
From the moment that "Deformative" begins, the mission and tone of the band is instantly clear, as the tempo is almost spastic, and there is a dark, nervous, almost sinister feel to the song. Overall, the term that best defines the song, and much of the groups' music is simply "unhinged," as there is a constant feel that everything can fall apart at any moment, and this delicate feel is perfectly deployed throughout each of their songs. "Deformative" is breathtaking in a way unlike any other song, as it pace and feel quite literally have that effect, with drummers Dan Caldas and Mike Kanin spinning the song at a dizzying speed. This dual-drum sound quickly makes the song completely unique, and the way in which the guitars from Daniel McCormick tear across the track and seemingly random times only adds to the mood, helping the song to define the word "unsettling." The final addition of two bass players, Hugh MacElroy and Jacob Long, give "Deformative" a depth and sound that is nothing short of amazing, and it turns the entire album into a sound that must be experienced firsthand to be properly appreciated. The combined sound of the group shows a close tie to the punk and hardcore sounds, and yet it is far more experimental and musically courageous than almost anything else released in recent years. It is this brilliant deployment of a completely unique sound that makes Black Eyes so fantastic, and "Deformative" stands as a song that once heard, cannot be forgotten.
Perhaps the only aspect that better defines the band than the wild music is the way in which the fast-paced, almost off-kilter lyrics fall across "Deformative." Much in the same way that the band presents the rhythm section, there are two vocalists on the track as well, and the way in which the two voices seem to completely contrast one another, yet somehow blend together is yet another way in which the band truly knows no peers. Combining speaking, shouting, and a unique singing sound, the vocals perfectly match the sound of the music, and the speed and tension within the vocal performance also presents an ideal compliment to the overall feel of the song. Almost poetic in both delivery and content, there are few other instances in history where the live energy of a group has been so perfectly captured on tape, and it is within the lyrics that one can find some of the most vivid and passionate words recorded in recent history. Largely a tale of youth, one can draw a number of interpretations from the lyrics on "Deformative," and yet it is the fury with which they are delivered that makes one able to understand the proximity of the vocalists to the scene to which they create. Truth be told, there is simply nothing like the vocal performance on "Deformative," and while one can compare them to other bands, it is within the vocals that they separate themselves from anything else in the history of music.
To be truly unique in the modern music scene has become something which both record labels and the general public seem to look down upon. This can be seen as the "dumbing down" of the music industry, and one can easily point to this as the cause for the massive decline in music sales, as well as the overall distraught appearance of the industry as a whole. While the "big labels" are struggling to force-feed the public more bland "flash in the pan" acts, it is the smaller labels that continue to carry the torch for "real" music, and in the bands of these labels that one can find some of the most amazing sounds heard in years. Though there are a number of labels with these credentials, they all continue to look up to the "first" label of this type, as Dischord Records still remains the standard for unique, highly talented music. Among their recent bands, few brought an energy and creativity similar to Black Eyes, and the bands' 2003 self-titled debut remains one of the most destructive and absolutely brilliant records ever recorded. The sense of nervous, almost insane energy that runs throughout the album is one of its most distinctive features, and there is also a sense of authenticity within the songs, proving that this band wasn't trying to be something they weren't. With each song on Black Eyes grabbing the listener and never letting go, it remains one of the most superb musical achievements in recent years, and one can quickly understand just why the band is so extraordinary by hearing Black Eyes 2003 song, "Deformative."