Pump Up The Volume: "Opiate Eyes" Self-Titled EP

December 9, 2011 2 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

I have always been a fan of how music in movies can be used to capture a moment, to perfectly complement a scene, to even invade your mind and actually make you FEEL the intended emotion.

There are so many examples of just such a wondrous slice of cinematic genius, some of my all time favorites are: John Cusack with a boombox over his head blaring Peter Gabriel’s classic In Your Eyes (point of fact: Fishbone’s Turn the Other Way was ACTUALLY coming out of the speakers of the boombox while filming—there was some disagreement with Cameron Crowe’s choice for how the scene should be handled, but I digress…). Natalie Portman placing headphones—not earbuds mind you!—over Zach Braff’s ears blessing him with a Ӆsong [that] will change [his] life.” that being The Shins’ New Slang. The Pixies’ Where is My Mind blaring as buildings collapse amidst Tyler Durden’s anarchist schemes. Still, the moment that has had the most lasting impression on me as a general lover and creator of music is the scene from High Fidelity when the warped, yet usually correct, employees of Championship Vinyl play the Beta Band’s Dry the Rain to show how the perfect song connects everyone with its sheer joy! Joy. What better word could be used to express a creative thought that literally brings a smile to the face of every person within its radius?

Now imagine a collection of musicians, of whom it appears, has used those moments of shared joy as the template and foundation for their entire musical output. Now imagine the travesty that not everyone knows about them…yet. Now imagine that these artists could be easily discovered in your own backyard. Now visualize Opiate Eyes. This fantastic Jacksonville band has been making waves locally for a while, but with their newest releases and their recent crowning as the winners of The Big Ticket Battle—which put them on a stage that hopefully they will “occupy” again and many more like it as well—the wake of those locals waves has the potential to carry them much farther. The charm possessed by Opiate Eyes lies in the simultaneous familiarity and the unique freshness of the music, not to mention how beautifully and artfully they balance themselves between the indie and the pop, between the art and the [new] mainstream. The music presents itself as a perfect soundtrack that evokes the aura of autumn; its almost as if you can actually hear the leaves changing color before they descend to the cool earth below, that you can almost smell the burning logs mixed with chilled air in your nose—taking me back to so the simpler times of my adolescence when I dreamt that I could live in an episode of The Adventures of Pete and Pete (and not surprisingly there are many points on the recording that hearken to Pete and Pete’s musical landscape—the criminally unknown Mark Mulcahy’s side project Polaris!). And that’s as it should be: gently nestled among the lovely memories of the ‘90’s indie hayday, absolutely content in its indie-prog-psych-pop skin.

With great ease the members of Opiate Eyes (Drew Bond, Tom Essex, Roland David, and Thomas King) rather adeptly swerve in and out of ranges inhabited by the likes of the Talking Heads to Built To Spill to the Pixies to even early 60’s psych-pop (a la the Zombies, the Animals)—in other words if Vampire Weekend had maturity, taste, and class. One of the overall most striking things about this record is the way the writing functions with a symbiotic relationship to the production—so much so that when I met with Drew and Tom to pick up the record their first question was, “what are you going to listen to the record on?” (My heart was honestly won upon hearing the question. I love it when musicians take that much pride in their work!). In other words this record has layers and nuances and little treasures to find buried all throughout.

But her biggest treasure, IMHO, is the opener Remember the Living. A darkly sunny yet hopeful plea to live and let loose of the past—not to mention THE hook (Oh you’ll know it when you hear it! Remember the bit about High Fidelity and the Beta Band? Yeah this is that moment on the record…). On Are You Always Close? the boys embark on a spaced-out-noodle-riffic ride that climaxes in a total Pixies-esque, Black Francis-channeled scream of  “shame”. Which leads right into Nightmares, Nightmares consisting of a synth line that would make Muse jealous for having not written themselves—and the outro bridge is incendiary slowburn perfection. Silence Is smacks of their warped take on the Kinsella brothers’ Polyvinyl sound. Go Ahead and Get Gone is followed the very Aloha-esque Sounds into Eternity which leads flawlessly into the second great high point of the record in Thinkers vs. Doers. They open the song with a thought that I will leave you with: “It’s commonplace to not transcend this comfort, for what could be greatness.” You need to know Opiate Eyes, because with their music “wonder will return; we’ll smile again.”

Opiate Eyes music and show times can be found at www.facebook.com/opiateeyes
And here www.opiateeyes.bandcamp.com