It was in late 2007 when I had my first exposure to the Tyler, Texas family act Eisley‘s major label debut, Combinations (I am sure one of their legions will correct me on this if they ever actually got a hold of this blog – a man can dream, no?). I am not precisely sure where the motivation to listen to it in full came, whether it was a friend’s recommendation, or a surprising mention on one Best of 2007 list. Either way, Eisley’s inclusion on a best of 2007 list was entirely appropriate (indeed from that piece, I got tipped off on the Pipette’s album which is one of the very best of the decade, and Robert Plant/Alison Krauss require no further praise) . Eisley’s album was an uncommonly good rock album with some perfect angelic harmonies and vocals that elevated it among the crowd in a very very congested genre – in particular “Taking Control” and “I Could be There for You” are still favorites on my IPod. (wait, what am I doing?? I wrote all about this already in 2007 and rehashed it here … just get the album legally dangit)
Unfortunately, a funny thing happened on the way to major label success – the output slowed down … a lot. Whether this is attributed to some sort of self-imposed JD Salinger-esque fallow period or a much more mundane “life as a battling, struggling band” reason – the long awaited follow up continues to be long awaited. In the meantime, Eisley has released work in drips and drabs. The most recent splurge of work can be seen in their Fire Kite EP. The EP is really just two songs (there are four songs, but two are garage-type demos). The good news is that the songs really are excellent. Ultimately the vocal muscle in the band that created its “sound” even in its Room Noises incarnation was the cute/haunting vocals of Sherri Dupree and fortunately, the EP’s songs do not get away from the strength.
In particular, the song “Ambulance”, the first song on the EP, succeeds as a truly haunting song of a broken relationship. Like most good love songs of course, it is sad and about a love that failed. When Dupree asks “Am I gonna be all right”, the words are imbued with emotion that perhaps shows a little apprehension. People often change, grow, find others – but when a love fizzles out, maybe such perspective is not afforded by the human heart. Add the deft piano and sort of darker shift musically as the verse melts into the chorus – and there is some real depth there. The other major song “The Valley”, whose lyrics give the EP its title, is also a very good song, albeit not as profound and more basic rock – verus, chorus, verse, bridge sort of thing. Eisley patrons will know the sound well, but it is very well done. The garage demos provided are also good and interesting – but these two finished songs are the heart.
If there is a downside to the EP of course is that there are only two songs. In a world where we are not exactly rife with great rock acts – good evocative acts like Eisley are more important than ever – if only to thwart the tidal wave of suck that Nickelback or Kings of Leon threaten modern American culture with. So for them to not have an album out in 3 years is a bit of a crime – and for an EP to only give us a couple songs to chew on in the interim does not feel like nearly enough. HELP!