Xray Eyeballs, the lovechild of frontman O.J. San Felipe, look to April 19th as the day they drop their debut LP Not Nothing on the world. The Brooklyn fivesome want to make “every song sound like a lullaby...(but) not all happy lullabies either. I think people like songs they can relate to, with things like love, loss, dark vices, and sex,” says O.J. Drawing comparisons to the frantic pop of Jay Reatard and the Urinals, and the moodiness of Velvet Underground and Jesus and Mary Chain, Xray Eyeballs hope to render it all their own.
There is a sensation in Women’s second album, Public Strain, like there is something lurking beneath the surface. Beneath the noise and strained guitars, there lies a melody or purpose that shoves the music forward with the thick treacle of production acting as not just an affectation, but as a limiter of the songs which have been meticulously crafted by the Canadian four-piece.
Each song sounds like some weird, combined kind of languid heroin high as might have been produced by some 1960s band operating in the orbit of acts like Velvet Underground, whose drugs of choice were opiates, as opposed to psychedelic and modern shoegaze-worshiping bedroom projects. The album is detached to a detriment, like listening to music being played next door. The band keeps its distance from the listener; which is unfortunate, because the breathy delivery of the vocalist makes you wish you were beside him and able to see the beauty in the decay around you.
Public Strain opens weakly. “Can’t You See”, “Heat Distraction” and “Narrow With The Hall” are no match for the latter half of the album. “Can’t You see” gives you a bass line and a plaintive chorus which cries “can’t you see” like a spurned lover with an overabundance of production that produces a bed of noise that coats the song like an oppressive fog, diminishing the listener’s visibility. “Heat Distraction” starts off a bit better, mutating, perhaps even evolving as the song continues, yet whatever distraction the song provides is not present when “Narrow With The Hall” immediately makes you recall the opening track’s familiar noise and distance.
“Penal Colony” and “Bells” are where the depth of the album really begins to manifest. Soft but not demure, the distance is accentuated with calm melodic guitars given a near choral quality whose verdant blanket of guitar carries over to the whole of “Bells”, making these two tracks everything which the first three are not. Here, the arrangements are endearing and lull you to a near dreamlike state of comfort and security.
“China Steps” leads off the second side of the album and it is probably the strongest single song on the album, as guitars and bass bounce back and forth from one another complimenting and antagonizing each other’s parts.
It’s here on the second side where the instrumentation really shines as the band opens up, moving away from the dead-voiced goth-gaze vocalizations as the album gains speed and energy, as much amphetamine-fueled and paranoia-filled as opposed to the previous side’s codeine, vodka mixers which slowed your heart to a stop.
Public Strain is a good album whose unfortunate tendencies at the start prevent it from escaping a nebulous sort of rating. It’s somewhat unique in that it doesn’t sound like other similar purveyors working in similar genres. Women’s ability to mix moods and themes as well as the antonymic, baroque and bare hopefully spells a long future for them as a band.
The Deep Vibration is one of our favorite up and coming new bands here at Modern Mystery, so when the band rolled into town on their co-headlining tour with Roman Candle we were really excited to see what they had to offer live. No lie, The Deep Vibration is one of the best live bands out there today. Singer Matt Campbell is literally an explosion of energy on stage. This is one band we can’t wait to hear more of and keep the name in mind, because they are on the verge of being huge real soon.
We had the opportunity of sitting down with Matt to talk about everything from their press exposure to how they got their infamous name.
How did the band form?
Matt Campbell: Uh, Andy and I went to college together and we started playing guitars together. And then when that band fell through years ago, two and a half years ago we met Luke who was from Australia and had traveled the world with some pretty big bands. We met Adam….well Luke joined the band in December 2007, it will still a different band kind of. Then this time last year Adam showed up as our bass player. I had seen him play, and we needed a bass player because the guy that we had parted ways, and that’s how we met Adam.
How do you go from Australia to Nashville?
MC: Yea he was playing for another band on drums.
You obviously have blues and rock and roll mixed into your sound. When push comes to shove, which one do you prefer?
MC: I like them both, I think of them as the same.
There’s a pretty big story how you got your name, how did it come about?
MC: We needed a band name because ours (The Attack) was taken, and we went to Walmart and flipped through um, like cheap novels and the Deep Vibration was what we went with. (long pause). I’m just kidding! (laughs). So we went to a show at the Ryman and Lou Reed was playing and we were like ‘Well Lou is going to have a good name for us!’ After the show we hung around the back. It’s great if ya’ll ever come to Nashville, there’s a great alleyway between the Ryman and Broadway kind of. Have you ever been there?
No I haven’t!
MC: Well there’s this great alleyway and it smells like garbage, because its like where they dump the garbage. So that’s where that came in and Lou came out to sign autographs and everybody is crowded around him and then I was in the back and said ‘Lou! I need a band name!’ and he kind of kept signing records and then a while passed and he looked up and he said ‘Deep Vibration,’ and we said ‘Thank you!’ and we just kind of hung out and after he finished signing records and stuff he walked up to me and talked a bit then got in his taxicab.
That’s a great way to get a name! When does the first full length come out?
MC: We don’t have a date. Probably….there’s no date. Maybe. By this time next year it will be out, definitely.
How do you feel about the success of the ‘Veracruz’ EP? There has been a lot of talk about it through magazines and blogs.
MC: I don’t like reading those things, and its great when people like it. I’d rather not, I don’t know. I think it sounds good and I like the songs on it, and I think the guys put a lot of love into it. They did a great job. It’s different from a lot of the records…because, well it is. So I feel like its great and I couldn’t be happier with it. There’s a few wobbles in it, but it works well with the record. That stuff is just what works.
What made you decide to record the album on an 8-track?
MC: Computers are horrible and they can destroy beautiful things. Tape machines have a soul too and a heart. Technology can be self reliable but you can’t put you’re blood in it and rock and roll needs that.
I find that often, digital can be very cold.
MC: Yea, people can just get very over analytical and end up changing lots of things. I can’t go back and cut and paste on a tape machine. You can’t argue with it.
How did you get Gillian (mistakenly pronounced ‘Jillian’) to perform on your record?
MC: Gillian? That’s okay! (laughs) You’re a big fan I guess! (laughs) We went to one of her shows. I saw a great show in high school, she played at this place called The Station Inn in Nashville and on St. Patrick’s Day everyone was drinking green beer and getting drunk. I met her there. My Dad has the same guitar as her and I showed it to her and talker to her a bit. I had it in my car.
How does the songwriting process occur for the band? Is it a collaborative effort or does everyone bring in their own songs?
MC: It can happen anyway. So far I’ve written the songs in guitar, song lyrics, music, but I don’t write their parts. They bring it into the song, then it sort of pans out.
This is your first extensive tour. How has it been going so far? Are there any weird tour stories yet?
MC: I don’t know!(laughs) Its going alright, its funny being on tour.
Has being on the road lived up to your expectations of what it would be?
MC: Sure! (laughs) I’m not sure what I expected it to be!
Our friends are on tour camping in tents in random places right now.
MC: Yea, people do that!
You get compared to Jeff Tweedy and Wilco a lot. Is that flattering or do you find it annoying?
MC: Jeff Tweedy? I don’t get that very much!
In the review I’ve read you do!
MC: Oh really, I don’t read them! I like Jeff Tweedy a lot. That’s strange.
How would you describe The Deep Vibration’s sound?
MC: Its’ try to keep it simple. It’s a simple sound but there are holes in it. Like a live show there is only four of us so there are a lot of gaps I think.
Which do you prefer, being in the studio or playing live?
MC: I like them both. I really like playing live shows especially when they’re situated right. Like when you get good sound and all that stuff, but I like playing anywhere. Tonight’s venue (Piano’s) was small!
And awkwardly shaped!
MC: Yea its really small. I had like an inch of stage. I really love the studio but I’m ready to hang out for a while.
How did you get signed to Dualtone Records?
MC: We played a show and Paul Roper (of Dualtone) came to it. That was like February of last year. Well, the story goes like a friend of ours was interning at Dualtone and she was playing a CD of ours and they were curious as to what it was. Paul came to a show we played and then we gave, well…we blackmailed them (jokingly laughs) I forgot you had a tape recorder! (laughs) I guess they liked us, our songs and music. We didn’t have a bass player.
Paul Roper of Dualtone (who was present during the interview): The first time I saw them they had a bass player with a huge afro and I said ‘We got a character here!’ but he had other things going on and Adam filled in and it was a great live show. That’s what sold me.
What is the first instrument that you learned how to play?
MC: Oh geez! Bass guitar. I never learned how to play it. I got it though. Guitar I guess.
If you weren’t in The Deep Vibration, what would you be doing?
MC: I’d be in The Attack!
Where do you see the band in 10 years from now?
MC: I see us with a few records out, playing shows. I see myself playing guitar, I see Jeremy playing guitar, Adam playing bass and Luke on drums. Just playing shows, recording a lot of songs, getting really good. I’m really excited about it. The next year is going to be a big year, a really big year for everything. What are you going to be doing?
I don’t even know what I’m doing tomorrow!
MC: You got to get it together! (laughs)
Final question of the night, what board game can you kick anyone’s ass at?
MC: Monopoly. Its a game of chance. I like the top hat.
CHECK OUT THE DEEP VIBRATION ON THEIR MYSPACE
Check Out More Photos from The Deep Vibration’s Show at Piano’s AFTER THE JUMP