Things to know about Eisley:
- each of the 5 current members is a DuPree. Vocalists Stacy and Sherri, guitarist Chauntelle, and drummer Weston are siblings, and their cousin Garron is on bass;
- they hail from Texas, and were apparently raised on a steady diet of Beatles albums and C.S. Lewis books;
- they were signed with Warner Brothers from about 2003 to 2011, and they had a bitch of a time making the albums they wanted to make. Now they have their own homemade studio and a super rad indie label. That’s fun!
- Also, they harmonize. Real good.
1. “Blackened Crown” – EP2 (1999 – 2003): This song ranks among my absolute favorites from the Eisley catalog. The slow, driving beat, ethereal harmonies, and grungy guitars are characteristic of most of their early songs. I would pay this band, like, $50 to play it live in 2013.
2. “Mr. Pine” – EP2 (1999 – 2003): One thing Eisley is know for is their use of whimsical imagery and storytelling lyrics. “Follow the crystal air to the snowflake village, where people made of gumdrops greet you merry morning, Mr. Pine.” I mean, really. But this song has enough power and sound to fill a stadium.
3. “Over the Mountains” – Laughing City (2003): IMHO, this is the height of Eisley’s early 2000s dreampop era. Soaring vocals and a steady, driving beat, with the most perfectly creepy / ethereal bridge. (This is my personal favorite Eisley song.)
4. “Sea King” – Marvelous Things EP (2003): Rilo Kiley’s Blake Sennet says that this is favorite Eisley song. Do with that information what you will. This song is especially interesting to think about in relation to the band’s most recent album, Currents, which was just released.
5. “Marvelous Things” – Room Noises (2003): Though a few years already into the band’s run, this was Eisley’s first single. I’m forever haunted by the image of a “bat with butterfly wings,” and I really will never forget the picnic-from-hell music video. So just watch it, k?
6. “Golly Sandra” – Room Noises (2003): I love the twangy guitar, the trippy drums, and the childlike lyrics. “Golly, Sandra, you’ve grown up really crazy.” I’m not sure what the story is behind this song, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it were about an imaginary friend.
7. “They All Surrounded Me” – Final Noise EP (2006): After this EP, the band started to grow away from the hyper-whimsical lyrics, but, I mean. It’s about dragons. DRAGONS. The piano makes you feel like you’re marching through the woods. Close your eyes, and you’re in the middle of a fairy tale.
8. “Invasion” – Combinations (2007): While I found Combinations to be a generally underwhelming album, “Invasion” was the single the label pushed, and I do love the Twilight Zone-y ness of it all. One thing Eisley’s always been good at is creating a mood that helps tell a story. In this case, it’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The music video speaks for itself.
9. “Like the Actors” – Like the Actors EP (2007): Kind of a return to their earliest sound. “When you were young you thought you were so ugly, and you wouldn’t attend the cocktail party.” Equal parts wise and naive, with those DRUMS. (Let the record show that during the WB era, Eisley’s strength was in their EPs.)
10. “Ambulance” – Fire Kites EP (2009): This is the kind of song you’d play during a super sad commercial calling for donations for some kind of animal hospital. But…better.
11. “The Valley” – The Valley (2011): “Real heartbreaker come and take me to the real heartache that everyone’s talking ’bout…I don’t believe in magic.” This album was released in the wake of a series of broken engagements, break-ups, and divorces for some of the band members, and in a sense, it marked a major lyrical departure for the band from whimsy to “real heartache.”
12. “Laugh It Off” – Deep Space EP (2012): This is it. This is actually my favorite Eisley song. If The Valley is symbolic of heartbreak, “Laugh It Off” is the mountain on the other side of the valley. The sound definitely reminds me of earlier songs like “Over the Mountains,” but it benefits from Stacy’s matured voice (she was like, 12, when the band started playing gigs) and the emotional lyrics.
13. “Wicked Child (ft. Merriment)” – Currents (2013): And we’ve come full circle. You could draw a line directly from “Blackened Crown” and “They All Surrounded Me” to “Wicked Child.” Bonus points on this song for the inclusion of Merriment, which is the band of the youngest two DuPree siblings (Christie and Colin). Christie knocks the bridge right outta the park.
14. “Shelter” – Currents (2013): One thing you need to know about this song is that super-talented composer and producer Jeremy Larson headed production on Currents. Also, thank God, the band finally left Warner Brothers. The string arrangements are so floaty and complex and magical. The lyrics are a bit on the sappy side, but what’s wrong with being a little sentimental? This is a beautiful song.