Formed in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in the early 2010s, indie rock quartet Nap Eyes combine the driving jangle of classic Flying Nun bands with an arch lyricism and scrappy lo-fi ethos that played out over a trilogy of critically acclaimed albums in the middle years of that decade. Built around the literate, often stream-of-consciousness voice of songwriter/guitarist Nigel Chapman, the band underwent a slight sonic shift in 2020 with their more elaborately arranged fourth outing, Snapshot of a Beginner. Bandmates Chapman, bassist Josh Salter, drummer Seamus Dalton, and lead guitarist Brad Loughead debuted with a self-titled EP that came out in 2011. Though Dalton and Salter were both in the group Monomyth, and Loughead was a member of Each Other, Nap Eyes kept cranking out music, with two EPs (Tribal Thoughts and Four More Songs By) in 2012 and two 2013 releases (Joint Uppers & Other Favourites! and Dreaming Solo). They recorded fast, eschewing overdubs and getting a live and loose sound. Their first full-length was recorded in 2013 in Montreal by Mike Wright, who was also in Each Other with Loughead. Whine of the Mystic was first issued in 2014 in a limited run by Plastic Factory, then co-reissued in July 2015 by You've Changed Records and Paradise of Bachelors. Once again employing their preferred studio method, Nap Eyes recorded their follow-up album, 2016's Thought Rock Fish Scale, entirely live in the studio over a period of four days. Completing what they considered to be an informal trilogy of LPs, the band returned in March 2018 with the deeply personal I'm Bad Now. For Nap Eyes' fourth album, they took a more measured and hi-fi approach, working with producers Jonathan Low (the National) and James Elkington at the National's Long Pond studio in Upstate New York. The resulting album, Snapshot of a Beginner, was released by Jagjaguwar in April 2020.
© Tim Sendra /TiVo
© Tim Sendra /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released July 10, 2015 | Paradise of Bachelors
On their debut album Whine of the Mystic, Canadian quartet Nap Eyes straddle the line between scrappy, dusty Americana songcraft and rambling Velvet Underground-inspired indie rock built on flashing guitars and songwriter Nigel Chapman's drawled vocals. Alternating between long, happily meandering tracks that allow the band to stretch out and the guitars to dance around each other and short, snappy songs that deliver neat, easy-to-digest hooks, the album really takes off when they blend the two approaches into something murkily catchy. The opening "Dark Creedence" starts the album off on a high point with darkly chiming guitars, insistent drums, and a vocal melody that twists and turns; "No Fear of Hellfire" ends it with a steadily driving beat, tremolo-heavy guitars, and some laconically appealing singing from Chapman. His voice throughout the record is one of the strong points, delivering his words with a knowing, slightly fuzzy feel as if he were a professor giving a lecture in front of a class. The approach is usually a good one; it only falters when the music falls back on musical clichés, like it does on the country ballad "Make Something." It really works on the uptempo tracks, where it sounds like he's scrambling to keep up with the galloping rhythms and whip-smart guitars. Check "No Man Needs to Care" for a fine example of this. Whine of the Mystic is a fine debut from a band with a lot of ideas and a songwriter with a unique point of view. A little fine-tuning here and a couple tweaks there and the follow-up might really be something special. Until then, Nap Eyes are solidly promising and that's a good start. © Tim Sendra /TiVo
Alternative & Indie - Released February 5, 2016 | Paradise of Bachelors
Nova Scotian indie quartet Nap Eyes return with Thought Rock Fish Scale, a thoughtfully distilled companion piece to their 2015 debut, Whine of the Mystic. As with its predecessor, the LP was recorded live to tape with no overdubs, further cementing Nap Eyes' transparent methodology that places songwriting and performance above all else. There is nothing flashy or dramatic about their brand of rock, which has been compared to acts like Bedhead, the Go-Betweens, and most frequently the Velvet Underground, but their spare guitar meditations and the lyrical acuity of frontman and songwriter Nigel Chapman reveal many hidden layers to discover. On the surface, there is an immediate continuity with their debut, but a closer listen suggests this second chapter is a much more understated and spatial affair. The simplicity of a track like "Stargazer," with its pleasingly laid-back refrain, belies the rigorous self-examinations contained within, and that's a big part of Thought Rock Fish Scale's charm. It's a windows-down day-tripper with a meandering, introspective heart that's as dark, light, and inviting as the northerly Maritime Province where it was made. Captured in a somewhat dry, small-roomed fidelity, the band cruises along amiably on low-key rockers like "Click Clack" and the catchy "Roll It," stretching out appropriately on the slowly unfurling emotional highlight "Alaskan Shake." The performances are unfussy and cohesive, lending a gentle backbone to Chapman's dryly delivered intonations as together they meld poetry, guitars, and rhythms into their late-afternoon mix. With this sophomore record, Nap Eyes offer a subtle gem that ultimately improves on their debut. © Timothy Monger /TiVo
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