It was a concert on a Friday night, and some pretty girls and guys were there.
And they were there to see Halifax quartet Nap Eyes, who along with Irish guitarist Cian Nugent on a double bill, charmed with some occasionally folky/occasionally psychedelic guitars.
Apologies to Nap Eyes for borrowing the opening line from their song “Mixer,” from their new album Thought Rock Fish Scale, there — but it was true that they drew a fair crowd at DC9 on Friday night on their tour to support the new release, published in the United States on Feb. 5.
The song “Mixer” is a pleasant description of showing up at a soiree and finding yourself on the outside, ruminating wistfully on being somewhere else — physically and mentally.
The scenario leads to a broader reflection on the narrator’s life, where he ponders how easy things are to understand but how difficult it can be to resolve any challenges:
But it’s easy to understand/
What it is that makes me feel this way/
It’s not so easy to make/
All of my problems go away
It’s a great lyric on the human condition, representative of many of the soft, conversational musings offered up by Nap Eyes in their songs. After opening with “Mixer,” Nap Eyes rolled into new song “Roll It,” a song about questioning things over which you have no control or perhaps things that don’t go your way. It’s more kindling for an existential fire, where we join a sympathetic circle of pondering out lot in life with Nap Eyes vocalist and guitarist Nigel Chapman. At the two-thirds mark, “Roll It” slows down considerably to the refrain to “And you know something’s not right here/But you don’t know what it is.” What if it’s you? Nigel asks as drummer Seamus Dalton brings the tempo way down to a simmer.
Listen to “Roll It” by Nap Eyes on Soundcloud:
Unfortunately, a troublesome roadtrip from Philadelphia brought Nap Eyes to DC9 late, and the bands started about an hour behind schedule. The delay resulted in very truncated performances for both Nap Eyes and Cian, with Nap Eyes only performing about five songs.
It was time enough still for Nap Eyes to nod to their debut album, last year’s Whine of the Mystic, with the song “Tribal Thoughts.” Appropriately, “Tribal Thoughts” tacks a jauntier, and it’s an opportunity for bassist Josh Salter and guitarist Brad Loughead to shine with some good licks and a funkier beat.
Watch Nap Eyes perform “Tribal Thoughts” live at Lee’s Palace in Toronto on Sept. 25, 2015:
All in all, some of the critical comparisons hold up when putting Nap Eyes next to Lou Reed’s thoughtful reflections on the human condition and flair for psych guitar strummers. Audiences are certain to find the music of Nap Eyes accessible yet expansive upon exposure to it!
Thankfully, Nap Eyes and Cian Nugent have only just began their tour, so there are opportunities to catch them over the next four weeks as they perform at a city near you! The band plays next at SXSW in Austin, where they have performances Wednesday, March 16, through Friday, March 18. I predict they will be a hit at SXSW, and we’ll hear more from them and about them in the months to come.