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Eyestrings - Burdened Hands

Eyestrings - Burdened HandsBased in Detroit, famous for the USA’s automobile industry, four-piece Eyestrings have just released their self-produced debut album Burdened Hands.  They may or may not know about the manufacture of cars but they do know about good music and in particular, progressive rock.

Eyestrings’ primary composer, Ryan Parmenter (vocals, keyboards), was weaned on his father’s LP collection and at the early age of two, showed good taste and judgement by requesting music from Peter Gabriel’s 3rd album.  He began composing at high school, filtering the sounds of many artists including The Beatles, Genesis, King Crimson, Gentle Giant, Yes, Tears For Fears, Radiohead, and even gravel voiced Tom Waits and They Might Be Giants, through his own (and I quote) twisted perspective.  He also had a great fondness for his uncle Matthew Parmenter’s prog outfit, Discipline.  Eyestrings bassist, Mathew Kennedy, is Ryan’s other uncle who has played with many bands, including Discipline, over the past twenty years, and co-produced Burdened Hands.

Long time friend of Ryan’s, Alan Rutter (guitar) has played with LA based neo-prog trio, RCA Project and is a fan of newer prog, especially Dream Theatre.  Completing the line up is Bob Young (drums) who played with Mathew Kennedy in Discipline and many other bands bringing his unique style and a raft of experience to the band.

Heavy in the musical influences previously mentioned, this ten-track album is remarkably easy to listen to but should not be confused with ‘easy listening’.  The beginning of the opening track, Recovery, sets the spine a-tingling with its mid-Genesis/solo Anthony Phillips feel, progressing to a short jazzy-rock guitar-dominated mid point before proceeding with touches of King Crimson whilst maintaining the initial theme.  A great start.  Itchy Tickler contrasts nicely with the first track, touching on Gentle Giant in the fun style of the late Kevin Gilbert or They Might Be Giants.  Dead Superman comes across as a humorous lament at the loss of one’s seemingly ‘super human’ powers and immortality whilst in one’s youth only to witness the slow inevitable decline as the years take their toll (everyone has their own form of kryptonite).  Turning to the darker and heavier side, Anachronism mates hard rock with a touch of pop (think The Darkness minus the glam bit) and prog.  Only those with access to a mirror or the ability to read backwards will be able to decipher the written lyrics to Anachronism in the CD booklet!

Funnel returns to the style of the opening track but perhaps is more influenced by Discipline than Genesis, closing with a tremendous fast guitar and keyboard riff and accompanying bass and percussion along the lines of IQ at their best.  The amusing, Just A Body, is the sort of track you might find on The Beatles double ‘White’ album or perhaps something that Beatles parody band The Ruttles might have done.  Continuing in the humorous theme comes Slackjaw, sung in the style of Tom Waits to the accompaniment of Brubeck melody mixed with Zappa and a prog background of guitar, synth and organ resulting in a very jazzy – proggy – funky piece which actually works very well.  Nothing leans towards Radiohead and perhaps even Porcupine Tree in places with nice and subtle instrumentation.  Time Will Tell offers a hint of Steely Dan initially though this leads to a more modern indie sound twinned with The Beatles style of I Am the Walrus (well, not quite, but almost).

The album opens with a ten-minute track so it is only right that closing track is either obtusely short or the longest on the CD.  Eyestrings opted for the latter choice, so in the sub 13-minute epic category falls Empty Box, which is full of cracking atmospheric instrumentals.  While this track does not have any obvious influences, the sound ties in well with the opening track.

Burdened Hands is a very easy album to get into with strong songs and melodies, often-humorous lyrics and faultless instrumentals.  With so many influences at their disposal, it will be interesting to see on future albums if Eyestrings maintain the same diverse but coherent styles or thin them down a little.  I’ll wager that their sound will develop mainly from that found in Recovery and Empty Box though I hope they will always try and include something of the contrasts found on Burdened Hands, which as I have implied is instantly likeable.

You can get hold of a copy of Burdened Hands, which, incidentally, must be the first debut album of 2004, from the bands website (link below) and most of the usual retailers including cdbaby.com and amazon.com.

Jem Jedrzejewski

Eyestrings

 

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