The Flying Eyes, Burning of the Season: Finding Golden Days

Posted in Reviews on October 11th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the flying eyes burning of the season

True, it’s been four years since Baltimore heavy psych/blues rockers The Flying Eyes made their last full-length offering. And in no small part because 2013’s Lowlands (review here) was such a satisfying follow-up to 2011’s Done So Wrong (review here) — their proper debut LP after compiling two EPs into a self-titled album (review here) the year prior — each one of those years has been felt. But it’s not as if The Flying Eyes have been sitting on their ass over that span of time. In 2014, they took part in the first four-way split from Heavy Psych Sounds alongside NaamWhite Hills and Black Rainbows (review here), and in 2015 they toured Europe for not the first time. They’d do so again in 2016 to mark their 10th anniversary as a group, also releasing the Poison the Well / 1969 7″ (discussed here) on H42 Records in the interim.

March 2016 brought dates in South America as well, and it was immediately following that stretch that the four-piece hit Estudio Superfuzz in Rio de Janeiro to record Burning of the Season, their third (or fourth, depending on how you count it) album and debut on Ripple Music, with producer Gabriel Zander, who’s built a reputation helming records for Mars Red Sky and others, and someone who clearly knows how to capture tone and vibe together. Both serve The Flying Eyes — the lineup of vocalist/guitarist Will Kelly, guitarist/lap steel guitarist Adam Bufano, bassist Mac Hewitt and drummer Elias Schutzman — remarkably well throughout, as does the arrangement-bolstering key work of Trevor Shipley on cuts like side A finale “Circle of Stone,” in which the record’s title line is repeated in a particular moment of arrival; one of several no less distinguished by its melody than overarching memorability.

But then, songwriting has always been part of the appeal of The Flying Eyes, and while their priorities have been and would seem to remain elsewhere geographically — tours in South America and Europe, not in the US, and so on — they continue to carry a measure of American pastoralia with them in pieces like opener “Sing Praise,” which makes an early show of Hewitt‘s bass tone en route to one of Burning of the Season‘s catchiest hooks, and the later melancholic “Farewell,” which resonates with the class of its delivery and a carefully conjured rhythmic bounce that manages not to pull away from the wistful mood. Splitting into two four-song sides, the record totals 43 symmetrical minutes, but casts an immersive and linear flow even as the aforementioned “Circle of Stone” — the longest cut at 7:41 save for closer “Oh Sister,” which hits 8:23; see how that works? — moves into twanging side B starter “Fade Away” such that it’s increasingly easy to follow the progression of the record as a singular work as it continues to move outward into greater expanses.

That happens with a somewhat marked shift in sensibility on the part of the band itself, which makes a raucous salvo of “Sing Praise,” “Come Round” and “Drain” at the outset before stretching out on “Circle of Stone,” and yeah, “Come Round” has a quiet part here and there, and “Circle of Stone” pulls back on tempo to emphasize largesse in its loud/quiet tradeoffs prior to its airy solo, but while that song gets its answer in “Oh Sister,” which again brings in Shipley‘s organ work as it revives a more upbeat feel, the balance of the dynamic at play is what shifts, and it becomes much to the richness of the entire listening experience that it does.

the flying eyes

On a sheer level of craft and performance, The Flying Eyes have never sounded better or like they have more to offer their listenership in terms of stylistic reach. Kelly as a vocalist is a commanding frontman who knows when to step back and let his and the surrounding instrumentation have its space, as shown even early on in an echoing break within the second half of “Sing Praise” further marked by standout tom work from Schutzman, and as “Fade Away” and “Farewell” expand the emotional center of Burning of the Season as a whole, he is able to convey genuine-seeming feeling without losing melodic focus, finding a delicate balance between storytelling and owning the material on a personal level. His and Bufano‘s guitar work throughout is likewise stellar, fluid, patient when it wants to be, insistent elsewhere and able to capture a feeling in just a single short progression, as on “Fade Away,” or cast a spaciousness in “Rest Easy” while still remaining grounded thanks to the complementary work of Hewitt on bass and Shipley on keys, who might need to become a permanent member of the band if he hasn’t yet.

Together with Zander‘s full-sounding and clear but still naturalist production (and some overdubs back in Baltimore at The Magpie Cage), all of these elements come to find a summary point in the revival hook and drive of “Oh Sister,” which picks up from the subdued trio of “Fade Away,” “Farewell” and “Rest Easy” to make its impression through the tapping of Schutzman‘s snare and the molten motion signaled thereby between more active and quieter stretches. The finale doesn’t hit quite the same level of emotional expression as, say, “Farewell,” but it does nod to some of the quieter parts of Burning of the Season while emphasizing its chorus en route to the triumphant wash with which it caps the album — a push-toward-crescendo that takes hold just past the six-minute mark with an uptick in volume and thrust and brings The Flying Eyes, whose control has been so resolute all the while, to an especially spirited end with a moment of chaos no less willful in its execution.

It may have tested patience and anticipation for fans, but four long years to bring about Burning of the Season was not wasted time in light of the growth shown in these tracks even from where Lowlands found The Flying Eyes in 2013. They are as sure in their approach as they’ve seemed to be perennially in their songwriting, and they remain underappreciated (at least in the US; I can’t speak for how other continents might receive them at this point) for what they bring to both in terms of quality and clear-minded, purposeful engagement. They’ve been a special band for a long time. Never more so than here.

The Flying Eyes, Burning of the Season (2017)

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The Flying Eyes Release Burning of the Season this Month; Stream “Sing Praise”

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 8th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

THE FLYING EYES

Usually I might like to make it deeper into a record than the third track before I add it to my ongoing list of the year’s best releases, but with my initial impression of The Flying Eyes‘ fourth full-length, Burning of the Season, which I have on for the very first time as I type this, the truth is I barely made it that far. Set for issue via Ripple Music and preceded by the stream of the track “Sing Praise” which you can hear at the bottom of this post, Burning of the Season is one I’ve been waiting on for a while, as the Baltimorean four-piece tracked it in Brazil with Gabriel Zander in 2016 and it’s been four years since their last proper album, Lowlands (review here), came out in 2013.

Of course, they’ve been plenty busy since then, touring in South America and Europe multiple times over, putting out shorter releases like the Poison the Well 7″ (discussed here) and this year’s split with Lazlo Lee and the Motherless Children, but golly it’s good to have a new record from them on the way. Like, really good. Like, one of the best albums of 2017 good.

Art and details follow via the PR wire:

the-flying-eyes-burning-of-the-season

THE FLYING EYES – Burning of the Season – New album on Ripple Music | Released 22 September 2017

With a name taken from a 1962 science fiction novel about giant, disembodied eyes that descend from space to control humanity, Baltimore’s The Flying Eyes are a heavy psychedelic rock band with a difference.

Primarily operating as an organ drenched, blues riffed rock’n’roll outfit of wayfaring journeymen, with a driven, hard rock sound; thunderous drums and distorted guitar leads The Flying Eyes have been compared in recent times to Blue Cheer, Hawkwind and Dead Meadow.

In 2007 they founded Farm Fest, a DIY music festival in Maryland which ran for six years and featured the likes of Black Moth Super Rainbow, Celebration and White Hills among many others. Yet hardly strangers to the stage themselves, since their formation over ten years ago they have supported the likes of The Raveonettes, The Black Angels and Dan Auerbach, and achieved an impressive following in Europe with extensive club touring. Not to mention countless festival appearances at Burg Herzberg Festival, Rockpalast Crossroads, DesertFest (Belgium) and the Synchronicity Festival in India.

Produced last year by Gabriel Zander (Mars Red Sky) at Super Fuzz Studio in Rio de Janeiro while on tour in South America, Burning of the Season is a return to the band’s roots of fuzzed-out blues and soulful psychedelia and is released on 22nd September 2017 through Ripple Music.

Track Listing:
1. Sing Praise
2. Come Round
3. Drain
4. Circle of Stone
5. Fade Away
6. Farewell
7. Rest Easy
8. Oh Sister

https://www.facebook.com/theflyingeyes/
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https://twitter.com/TheFlyingEyes
http://www.theflyingeyes.com/
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ripple-Music/369610860064
https://twitter.com/RippleMusic
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/
http://www.ripple-music.com/

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