Podcast: The Best of Eisley

Over the past decade and a half, Tyler, Texas, band Eisley have made a habit of releasing delightful, poignant, purposeful indie pop. On this episode of It’s All Dead, Kiel Hauck and Nadia Paiva break down the band’s discography, ranking all five full-length albums, from Room Noises to I’m Only Dreaming. They also share their top 10 songs and discuss the band’s wild ride from their early major label breakthrough to their return to their indie roots. Listen in!

Subscribe to our podcast here.

What’s your favorite Eisley album? Share in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Advertisements

Perma Return with New Album “Fight Fair”

I have a friend named Zac who is a musical genius. Anything he touches in the music world becomes incredible. Instruments, songwriting, composition. The dude literally has talent in every aspect of music – except vocally, which isn’t to put him down, because he’ll literally be the first to mention it. But he married a woman who is a vocal mastermind. Everything they work on together is infinitely better than it would be if they were separate. All this is to say that my other favorite musical couple, as well as people who share this same relationship to music, Max and Sherri Bemis, have just released their second album under the name Perma.

You can stream Fight Fair on Spotify.

Perma released their first album, Two of a Crime, in 2013. If you’ve been paying attention to Max this year, you’ll know that he laid Say Anything to rest and is focusing on other aspects of the creative world, specifically writing comics. Sherri is still continuing with Eisley, as well as being an artist, wife and mom to their three kids. (She’s also a hero of mine.)

They released their latest album, Fight Fair on their 10th anniversary, which basically just solidified even more how much admiration I have for this couple. They’re very open about their life, and to watch them make it through the ups and downs and still have so much love and passion and respect for each other is beautiful.

Fight Fair is no Two of a Crime by any means. Since 2013, Max and Sherri have had two more kids, and released five albums between both of their respective bands. The album tells a story of a marriage that has aged. It’s aged like fine wine, of course, but the album sounds significantly more mature than Two of a Crime does. There’s a lot more grit and agression to be heard. It’s aptly named because even though they fight with each other and things aren’t perfect, they still fight for each other every day.

by Nadia Paiva

kiel_hauckNadia Paiva has been a music enthusiast since she can remember. Going to shows is her main pastime. The other is being upset when she can’t go to shows. This is her first official venture into writing about music. You can follow her on Twitter.

Review: Eisley – I’m Only Dreaming…Of Days Long Past

I have an ever-growing list of favorite bands. In 2011, I found a group from Texas called Eisley and they quickly became the newest addition. The Valley continues to be a spring staple for me, and I’ve often thought to myself that there’s an Eisley album for every season.

I greatly anticipated and thoroughly enjoyed 2017’s I’m Only Dreaming. When Sherri Dupree-Bemis announced the re-release in May I was equally excited. I’m used to long waits for new albums, so the fact that there have been two Eisley releases in two years makes me happy.

You can buy I’m Only Dreaming…Of Days Long Past on Apple Music.

I’m Only Dreaming…Of Days Long Past is what the band themselves have dubbed “a collection of acoustic and re-depicted versions” of I’m Only Dreaming. The catch is that it’s only Sherri and Garron Dupree. Somehow, though, missing the rest of the band, the two family members have managed to create an even more ethereal rendition of what was already (like most of their past albums) an album straight from a fairytale.

While I’m not really sure what originally drew me to Eisley, their storybook atmosphere is what keeps me listening. Sherri’s vocals, combined with the synth they’ve adopted, create a beautiful soundscape that’s meant to be rested in. Where I’m Only Dreaming is effortless, I’m Only Dreaming…Of Days Long Past brings “effortless” to a new level. The barely-there pianos and softened harmonies are blended perfectly.

Let’s get into some specific tracks. Like the original album, I don’t really have a favorite song on this release. I was partial to “You Are Mine” (more on that track later) when it was released as a single, and the rest of the album didn’t disappoint. Eisley has mastered the less is more approach, both sonically and logistically. Their albums are never too long or heavy from a thematic standpoint and that makes them a standard in my car’s CD player. Any of the tracks hit the spot for me at any given time.

The two tracks I was most anticipating were “Louder Than a Lion” and “You Are Mine.” These are two of the most dynamic tracks in the Eisley song bank, in my opinion, and I was excited to see whether they’d keep the changes going or whether they’d scale them back. The former track has been stripped down in the best way. They don’t lose the haunting atmosphere, and, quite honestly, slowing it down and focusing on the vocal level has actually upped the eerie feeling I got from both the track when it was first released.

“You Are Mine” is right after “Louder Than a Lion” track-listing-wise. I also appreciated the paring down of this song, though not quite as much. I don’t want to say that I was disappointed, because I had no idea what to expect, but for what is such an explosive song and perfect single, I think it’s very similar to other tracks on the album in almost an afterthought way.

Where “You Are Mine” fell a little short, “When You Fall” soars. They say that the things you talk about the most show your priorities. There’s no secret that Sherri and Max love their kids. This song about Sherri’s daughters is no different. The way she delivers the lyrics showcases the intense love and concern she has for her family and that’s what makes “When You Fall” a standout track.

The final track I want to highlight is “Brightest Fire”. This was an instant standout for me on the first iteration of the album, and the same could be said here. Sherri’s instrument of choice here is stacked harmonies, and as anyone who’s read one of my reviews knows, I’m a firm believer that any song can be improved by throwing some layered vocals into the mix. I simply can’t get enough of this song’s re-release.

As with the original recordings and variations of I’m Only Dreaming, I love this album. It puts the lyrical aspects of Eisley toward the forefront of the listener’s focus and I’m always a huge fan of that. Maybe this is being a little greedy, but I can’t wait to see how Eisley follows up this particularly special chapter in their history. It’s been a big era of change both personally and musically for the band, and I’m interested to see how they’ll channel that fact in releases to come.

4/5

by Nadia Paiva

kiel_hauckNadia Paiva has been a music enthusiast since she can remember. Going to shows is her main pastime. The other is being upset when she can’t go to shows. This is her first official venture into writing about music. You can follow her on Twitter.

Podcast: Interview with Garron DuPree of Eisley

It’s been one month since indie pop outfit Eisley released I’m Only Dreaming, their fifth full-length album, and now the band is back out on the road. During a recent tour stop in Indianapolis, Eisley bassist Garron DuPree talked with Kiel Hauck about how recent lineup changes impacted the band’s writing process and how he views Eisley’s evolution. Garron also shares the excitement the band felt while working with producer Will Yip and how the band’s new form provides more freedom than ever before. Listen in!

Subscribe to our podcast here.

*This podcast mistakenly refers to Garron as Sherri’s brother. Garron is Sherri’s cousin.

What is your favorite song from Eisley’s new album, I’m Only Dreaming? Share your thoughts in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Review: Eisley – I’m Only Dreaming

eisley_blisskatherine-2016-web

Sherri DuPree-Bemis wastes no time dispelling any lingering fears Eisley fans may have had leading up to the band’s new release, I’m Only Dreaming. The album’s opening moments are quintessential Eisley, right down to Sherri’s haunting delivery of, “Whisper my name, I will find you, I will fly”. “Always Wrong” is a track that harkens to the days of Room Noises or Combinations with effortless ease and is a clear, if ironic, sign that all is right in Tyler, Texas.

When it was revealed late last year that Stacy King and Chauntelle D’Agostino would no longer carry on alongside their sister in Eisley, it was easy to raise questions about the band’s future. A large part of what made Eisley such a charming outlier in the indie scene was the distinct delivery and style that each DuPree sister brought to the table.

You can buy I'm Only Dreaming on iTunes.

You can buy I’m Only Dreaming on iTunes.

Thus, it speaks volumes to DuPree-Bemis’ talent and vision that I’m Only Dreaming not only captures the best parts of Eisley throughout the record, but also may very well be the band’s best release.

Each Eisley record seems to carry a particular theme and I’m Only Dreaming is no different. As the title suggests, the album unfolds in dream-like fashion, musing on the complexity of love, the dread of anxiety and insomnia, and the courage to overcome self-doubt. Like so much of the band’s discography, this new album carries a wistful ambiance that courses throughout.

Tracks like “Louder Than a Lion” embody the spirit of Eisley while also serving as a sonic step forward. The song’s electronic underbelly carries raw guitars and the sounds of a weary Sherri acting as a nighttime guardian of her daughters: “Cause I’m louder than a lion / My hands wipe out the ghosts / I’m brighter than a diamond / My light will shine the most”.

I’m Only Dreaming is truly an exercise in diversity, constantly rearranging the building blocks of the signature Eisley sound to create something new. “Snowfall” starts as an eerily delicate and familiar track before the full band breaks through at the two minute mark, highlighted by Sherri’s explosive delivery of, “As we watch the snow fall down, down / I am so far away from you now”.

Alongside these darker offerings, tracks like the light and airy “Sparking” or the alt-country tinged “When You Fall” stand in stark sonic contrast without feeling out of place. Even the poppy, bounding feel of “A Song for the Birds” with husband Max Bemis fits the narrative, with Sherri singing a chorus of, “My love for you, don’t ever doubt / You fill my heart, so sing it out / While we keep moving forwards / This is a song for the birds”.

It’s fair to argue that such an eclectic mix of sounds wouldn’t tie together quite as well without the presence of producer Will Yip, who is quickly becoming one of music’s most exciting minds. You can literally feel his graceful hand in the mix on early singles like “You Are Mine”, which knits together the instruments with surgical precision. Repeated listens with noise-cancelling headphones reveal even greater detail, and prove this to be Eisley’s best-produced album by a comfortable margin.

Sherri and cousin Garron DuPree handle the bulk of the writing duties on Dreaming and, together with Yip, have crafted a superb next chapter for Eisley. On “Defeatist”, Sherri’s repeated closing refrain captures the heart of the record, and perhaps alludes to the strength it took to push past what must have been a painful setback: “As the dust falls down, I usually give up so easily / I let my head hang down before I even see / A truth that’s plain as day, staring back at me / I’m a defeatist but I don’t have to be”.

The fact that we have a new Eisley record in 2017 is cause enough for celebration. That the album might be the band’s best is an absolute triumph.

4.5/5

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

The Spirit of Eisley Perseveres on Latest Tour

eisley-2016-splash

There’s no room for Sherri DuPree-Bemis to hide. The stage at the Hi-Fi in Fountain Square, a small artsy district just south of downtown Indianapolis, is small, just like the venue itself, and sits at the front of a tiny room packed shoulder-to-shoulder with onlookers. Unfazed by the mission at hand, the woman now tasked with leading one of indie rock’s most charming bands steps up to the mic and belts out the opening notes of an 18-song set.

Sherri is no stranger to the stage, but recent events have changed the dynamic. Earlier this year, it was announced that Tyler, Texas, outfit Eisley would continue on without two of its founding members (and two of Sherri’s sisters): Stacy King and Chauntelle D’Agostino. In preparation for a fifth full-length album coming in early 2017, Eisley is back on the road in their new formation.

For a band that has relied heavily in the past on whimsical harmonies and team vocal duties from each sister on stage, Eisley has a new feel with Sherri’s edgy delivery taking the spotlight. In an effort to retain the multi-vocal feel of the band, younger sister Christie DuPree now flanks Sherri onstage, providing her own unique twist to the songs.

Before Eisley’s performance, Christie and Remington DuPree took the stage as Merriment, a stripped-down indie pop act that resembles a lighter side of their older siblings’ music. Merriment debuted with Sway in 2014, an effort full of promise and light. As the duo prepares for their follow-up, it’s clear that Christie is more comfortable than ever on stage, whether performing upbeat indie folk tracks like “Backwards” or slow-burning acoustic ballads like “Patterns”.

Eisley

Eisley

On stage with Eisley, Christie offers range for the band, especially as they perform older tracks like “Brightly Wound” and “Trolley Wood”, serving as a soothing harmony to Sherri’s bite. Even so, the night’s set finds Sherri fully embracing the role of front woman in all the right ways. She owns the stage during performances of “Smarter” and “Many Funerals” and even sounds strong taking the lead on tracks that were previously piloted by Stacy, like “Ambulance” and “Shelter”.

As wonderful as it is to hear these tracks performed again after the band’s brief hiatus, the night’s best moment belongs to a rendition of their latest song, “Defeatist”. Here, Sherri sounds more confident than ever as she belts out the pleading chorus of, “You know I want to / You know I will fight / Down in the trenches / Holding your hand tight”. It’s a song of determination – one that fits the current mood of Eisley quite nicely.

The wait for more new Eisley music is likely to feel lengthy, but despite past trials, the band has never failed to deliver. As odd as it feels to gaze upon the stage and not see Stacy behind the keyboard and Chauntelle with her guitar, it’s still inspiring to watch Sherri carry on. On the band’s latest track, she labels herself a defeatist. It’s a bold self-assessment, but from our view on the floor, her demeanor is one of strength and resolve.

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

Reflecting On: Eisley – Room Noises

Eisley1

During 2015, we’re going to be looking back on some of the best albums that were released 10 years ago and discussing their legacy. Feel free to share your thoughts and memories in the replies. Enjoy!

Contrary to what you might think, Eisley didn’t catch lightning in a bottle with their debut full-length album Room Noises. As fledging and fresh as the album feels, that release was the result of hard work and perseverance, developed from years of touring and refining their sound. Even after several years of grinding, Eisley still possessed an eager pep and sense of wonder.

Leading up to the release of Room Noises, the Tyler, Texas, indie pop band, comprised of the sisters DuPree (Sherri, Stacy, Chauntelle), cousin Weston and friend Jon Wilson, had already begun to make their mark. A few well-received EPs and a building local buzz led to a record deal with Warner Bros. and an opening slot on Coldplay’s Rush of Blood to the Head Tour. By the time the band dropped their anticipated debut, more than a few ears were already standing at attention.

What’s incredible about Room Noises isn’t just that the album met expectations or cemented Eisley as one of the most creative indie acts around, but that it’s simplicity and effortless enthusiasm still resonates a decade later. An effort that would serve as a building block for later lauded releases such as The Valley and Currents, Room Noises possesses a charm and distinct innocence that sets it apart from the band’s other records.

At its core, Room Noises is about love, imagination and youth. Even the album’s more somber moments are lifted by the beautiful harmonies of Sherri, Stacy and Chauntelle. In their later work, the trio would find more subtle moments to let their harmonies shine, but on Room Noises, they fly free and often, adding a dream-like feel to tracks like “Memories” and “One Day I Floated Away”.

Musically, the album leans on pop sensibilities, but the band isn’t afraid to let their rock side show when the situation calls for it. Sherri’s guitar tones on breakout single “Telescope Eyes” add a dark overlay to the song before Stacy’s keys take over during the opening verse. As Sherri sings, “I wonder, why can’t you see / You’re just not near enough like me / With your telescope eyes, metal teeth / I can’t be seen with you” it serves as the ambiguous build for the song’s melodic chorus.

This vague imagery pervades Room Noises, offering moments of hazy beauty, such as the eerie “Marvelous Things”, which finds Stacy singing the peculiar opening lines of, “I woke the dawn / Saw horses growing out the lawn”. “Lost at Sea” captures the album’s drifting imagery well, intertwining it with peacefulness as Sherri sings, “And I’m not so afraid / Lost at sea, as I should be / And I’m not so afraid / Lost at sea, you and I, you and me”.

Other high points on the album include the ghostly chorus of “I Wasn’t Prepared” and the gentle pop rock drive of “My Lovely”. There are no weak points to be found on Room Noises, as the album moves at its own pace, unraveling each story with patience and delight. These noises aren’t meant to scare – instead, they’re catalysts for exciting exploration and wonder.

As the years following the release of Room Noises passed, the harsh realities of difficult life experiences and circumstances would lead Eisley in a much more blunt direction, culminating in 2011’s The Valley. That album, as adult and mature as Room Noises is innocent and youthful, captures the painful trials that come with adulthood and shares the story of how we overcome. It may very well be the band’s high-water mark, even as it sheds much of the band’s innocence, making their journey that much more real and authentic.

On “Brightly Wound”, the DuPree sisters join in singing, “I shall never grow up / Make believe is much too fun / Can we go far away to the humming meadow”. It’s the sentiment of many a child and the memory of many an adult. The unfortunate truth is that pain and disappointment are inevitabilities in this life; no matter how hard we wish them away.

Nevertheless, we’re always invited back to that place of peace, even as the pain passes. If nothing else, it certainly makes life’s bumps and knocks in the night just a little less scary.

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.