American Eyes CD Release Party Blasts "Hipper-Than-Thou" L.A. Crowd
Brian Dowell
11/28/2004 5:00:21 PM

American Eyes
CD Release Party
Key Club: West Hollywood, CA
November 19, 2004?

Attending any band's CD release party is a dicey proposition. The audience for such an event usually consists of either friends of the band or annoying trendy music scene hipsters. This is especially true when the event is held at a popular venue like the Key Club, which rests on the western edge of the Sunset Strip. A spacious, noisy, three-level venue with black and white television monitors built into the wooden floors that show monster movies and Bettie Page fetish videos in between bands, the Key Club attracts a crowd that dresses the same, talks the same, sports the same dopey looking haircuts, and seems to be engaged in a constant game of their own invention called "I Can Be More Ironic Than You Are." The only redemption the denizens of the Key Club offer is their decent taste in music. Such music is the only thing that made attending the CD Release juggernaut for young, hip LA band, American Eyes, worthwhile.

Badly applied eyeliner and fake English accents marked the arrival of the evening's openers, Clear Static. A quintet that obviously listens to way too much 80's English New wave music, Clear Static offered very little in the way of surprise or originality. Their songs were pleasant enough, and the musicians were competent--just not all that interesting.

Uninteresting is a word that will never be used to describe the evening's headliners, American Eyes. The band's front man, David, who looks like a young Trent Reznor and moves like a young Iggy Pop, started the set in the back of the venue, and as he sung into a cordless mike, danced his way through the audience, winding up in the middle of the active mosh pit, before bounding on to the stage. At other points in the show, David hurled microphone stands, dived off the drum riser and sang from the top of a large guitar amp. (Apparently, the last time the band played the Key Club, the singer took his pants off). When you read about it here, such a performance seems like a bad cliché, but watching it, I felt that American Eyes offered a showmanship and a flair for the unpredictable sorely lacking in most young rock bands.

The band thrashed their way through an energetic set of songs from their self-titled debut album, and threw in a evocative cover of "Never Tear Us Apart" by INXS for good measure. The Los Angeles quintet describe themselves as "punk", but their music is much too melodic and ambitious for that type of ghettoizing label. Obviously, like most bands their age, they borrow a lot from the Strokes, but to an old guy like me, they seemed more "glam" rock, in the vein of early Bowie. They're not rip-offs or knockoffs though; American Eyes are a rarity; the rock and roll real thing. It's too bad that label can't be applied to most of the people that currently like them.


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