003. EIAFUAWN - Birds in the ground LP
"Lost your patience / lost your temper / lost your coffee (with cream) / all over me."
My loving relationship with EIAFUAWN began more than five years ago with that line. Well, that line and the music that accompanied it. I had four of his songs that I played over and over again. After some time I got a CD with The Modulator Hustle EP along with some other songs, most of which found their way onto the Birds in the ground CD.
As a founding member of Duster, Mohinder, Parton Kooper Planetarium and El Buzzard, Clay Parton has dipped his foot into a variety of talent pools over the years, but it is when he is left to his own devices that he really shines and this record is truly proof of that. Birds in the ground was recorded at his home over a few long years, mostly on analog four track machines, with Clay playing all of the instruments himself. An intimate record that still manages to sound full; both of melody and warmth.
First press is on 180 grams of black vinyl. 520 copies were made. That's more than 90 kilos of music. Brendan Monroe did the amazing artwork for it.
Birds in the ground CD [The Static Cult Label, 2006]
EIAFUAWN: Website / Bandcamp / The Modulator Hustle
Even though this band is from San Jose, we had to go all the way to Sweden to discover them, not literally of course, but Swedish label Pillowscars were kind enough to turn us on to these guys (this guy actually), and their warm blissy home brewed 4-track dreampop.
Guitars are strummed, harmonics chime, cymbals sizzle, the sound is surprisingly lush, but then again, this record had been in the works on and off for years, amazing what you can do with a 4-track given enough time, the vocals are weary and laid back, plaintive and emotional, gently wrapped up in the swaying jangle and loping tempo, the bass buzzes and growls, the melodies are lilting, pretty, dreamy, total bliss pop for sure, think Animal Collective, Neutral Milk Hotel, Sparklehorse, you know what we're talking about.
The weirdest part is that the man behind Eiafuawn, was a member of legendary hardcore/screamo titans Mohinder! Who knew?
Incredible packaging, thick 180 gram vinyl, and some super striking, gorgeous weird cover art!
Let me get this out of the way at once. This is the solo project of Clay Parton who used to be in Mohinder, a band the average CZer should be way familiar with. However this does not even come close to sounding like Mohinder, but is it as good? Clay also played in El Buzzard, which I did not like, and Duster, which I have not heard.
Had to google the name and apparently it stands for 'everything is all fucked up and what not', a rather odd choice of name as the music does not sound like one would think either. I was actually quite surprised on the sheer quality of this. It's 12 plesant indie/folk tunes with a strong lo-fi feel to it... which instantly put me in a good mood although the songs are quite down to earth. Perfect for late winter nights accompanied with a bottle of red wine. Recorded mostly on 4 tracks, it has this nostalgic feel cause the first 4 track recordings I did ended up with a lot of the same guitar sound, but where my recordings was pure shit, this is crafted well and even after dozens of spins I still hear new aspects and details that I previously missed.
Hard to compare this to others, mostly due to the fact that I haven't heard much like this. At times it reminds me of the New Year/Bedhead, but without the same glossy dullness to it. At other times it reminds me of some of the more low key Elliott Smith material.
Another quality sign is the fact that my daughter started dancing to this and we did listen to this at breakfast every morning for the next 2-3 weeks.
The cover art of this is stunning as well and makes this one of the best purchases I made in 2008. So to the question that started of this review and I'll answer it with a prediction: in ten years I will have listened to this way more than I have listened to Mohinder.
Pillowscars recently released an LP from EIAFUAWN, which is an extremely complex and impressive solo project from on of the members of Mohinder (and later: Duster and El Buzzard), and everything about record is great, and very "grand". In a way, it almost reminds me of a more elaborate (though slightly less gloomy) Circulatory System, though maybe that's is just completely in accurate, it's what comes to mind. Downer songwriting, but still very loveable/accessible. The variation and utilization of countless instruments and slight variations to overall style remind me a lot of the French Quarter LP,... I bet Stephen would really enjoy this quite a bit. In contrast though, even at it's most "poppiest" of moments, there is nothing very uplifting about this, a feeling that I always (and probably improperly) refer to as "minor sounding". I'm extremely glad that Mike sent me a few of these on a recent trip he made to the states, and I hope that this record finds it's way to the people that it needs to, because this is something special that deserves much appreciation.
The joy….the utter joy of this job is picking up a record not having the faintest clue of what it might be then from the moment the needle hits the record just knowing that this was made especially for you.
The harder bit is then trying to express that feeling in words so that other people can take advantage of these little moments of serendipity. The first thing you hear are gorgeously thick, chunky guitars recorded with the needle way into the red. They start picking out the most unusual of melodies and are joined by a drummer who has obviously been told to simply play random fills and not to worry about such standard things as a back beat. If I could pin them to a city I’d say Chicago (though they are actually from San Jose). In come some vocals, slightly emo, slightly Modest Mouse/Dismemberment Plan, the track disintegrates back into itself and to its acoustics which by now sound crestfallen. The track is called ‘Bunny’ - it's tremendous.
The next one - ‘No More Like That’ - catches light with the same beautifully double/triple track acoustics. The vocals this time are more melancholic, like those of Elliot Smith or those in such interesting bands as America's Very Secretary. But ‘Birds’ is where I exploded. Its full of wintery beauty, led by a fantastically chewy guitar part. Drums pound away whilst mysterious vocals wander in and out of the mix. This is fantastically inventive indie rock. Although the band reference such 90s wanderers as Bedhead, early Sebadoh and The Sea and Cake they add in an impressive sweep of early Elliott Smith pathos and the kind of blissful sonic experimentalism that the likes of Animal Collective have used to move the whole scene forward.
Imagine those early Smith albums played by Chicago’s finest musicians of the era and recorded by Albini and you get somewhere close. Closer ‘Modulator Hustle’ is a tremendous, circular piece of plucked acoustic / drum machine joy. Then, wilful vocals come in and it just gets better. It's fantastically recorded throughout. Very few albums sound this great - and according to the press release they did it all on 4 track. It also states that the main man behind this was in the screamo/post hardcore Mohinder. Truly a mystery but this really is a great record and is deserving of a lorry load of attention.