erasing clouds

Frog Eyes, The Golden River

reviewed by dave heaton

There's something awfully punk rock about sounding completely off-kilter, like an eccentric clown walking a tightrope to some bizarre end. The Victoria, British Columbia-based band Frog Eyes exude instability and wildness, like Captain Beefheart, Devandra Banhart, Swordfishtrombones, and thousands of unknown weirdos of the past, present and future who make music that only shadows and ghosts will hear.

The group's second full-length The Golden River is an exhilarating trip for listeners willing to be lead in unconventional directions. Singer Carey Mercer sounds like David Bowie might if he was possessed by Satan, as he croons and yelps surreal lyrics that come off like the ravings of lost, forgotten characters who were written out of the epic tales of the past (especially myths, fantasy novels, nautical history and the Bible). "Silver gnomes all in my dome/and cameras they can finally roam by themselves," he starts on the album's first track ("One in Six Children Will Flee in Boats"), quickly bringing you into Frog Eyes' world.

With the dense atmosphere of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (or The Birthday Party, even) and a textured amalgamation of delicate pop and thick, bluesy rock meeting Mercer's glam-rock-gone-horribly wrong vocals, Frog Eyes' songs have a sound that's sort of familiar, but mostly not. Entering their musical habitat is like a slap in the face at first, but eventually it feels both comforting and creepy at the same time. The Golden River is a haunting, unforgettable experience.


Issue 15, September 2003

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