East Meets West
The newest band to join the murky, retro-tinged distortion of 1960s punk pop is Brooklyn’s Xray Eyeballs, whose debut album Not Nothing seems tailor made for sunny days or sweaty, beer-soaked live shows. The band’s nasal-voiced singer O.J. San Felipe was originally from San Francisco — which may account for the bands hazy, lazy feel and fogged-up pop melodies — before heading out East to form the group with some of his former Golden Triangle bandmates. With influences like King Khan, Black Lips and Jesus and the Mary Chain, Xray Eyeballs put another spin on the moodiness of new-wave garage rock.
The album opens with “Crystal,” a fuzzy, breezy song that sets up the rest of the album, promising catchy hooks hidden underneath layers of reverb. Sometimes this effect works, as it does on “Kamsing Knights.” Other times the rattled distortion gets a little lost in the production, a technique that would come across as less hollow in a live setting filled with onstage antics and an utter immersion of rough sound. What Xray Eyeballs do best in Not Nothing is their take on the beat pop of songs such as the infectious (and all too brief) “Fake Wedding,” as well as “Nightwalkers” and “Big Toe,” which manage to sound familiar in that vintage surfing film way, yet challenge the listener by grinding just enough noise with their melody.
There’s nothing exemplary or ground-breaking about Not Nothing, but as the title suggests, it is something: A solid and sunny debut album that will fit right in on sticky Brooklyn sidewalks, sandy So-Cal beaches or college station airwaves after dark.