Heart-Shredding
by Emma
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.

 

Nap Eyes - "Stargazer"
Nap Eyes - "Click Clack"

On Friday, I got to see Nap Eyes play a show. I've seen them a few times before - in the Sackville summer sunshine, in an echoey Halifax church, in a thrift store on a gloomy Fredericton Sunday - but this time, in Toronto, at the Garrison, felt different just by virtue of its audience. By the time we got there it was packed and low-lit and I kept doing double takes; the room was sold-out-filled with the kind of people who show up when a band you already like gets a good review on Pitchfork - exactly like the people you already know but each a few molecules removed, somehow. Second choices from the same department of central casting where they sourced your life.

I have already made my case for Nap Eyes's albums here and elsewhere; I've talked about how their record didn't do much for me until suddenly it found its way into my spine and under my breath for weeks on end. But I have not talked about what it is like to see them live. So, gentle reader, here I am now, looking you right in the eye, putting my hand over yours across the table in a way that is gentle but firmly reassuring, saying unto you: if you have the chance to see Nap Eyes play a show, you must take it. If you already like this band the way I like them, then you have probably already done this - but if you are on the fence, or not quite sure, or if you have no idea what I am talking about, you need to make sure that the next time they come to your town, you do the whole terrible thing of leaving your house and going into the world and paying real stupid money to stand in a room full of chattering strangers and let the thing happen to you.

If you like this band the way I like them, then there is a good chance that what draws you in is something about the slow, steady sparking of warmth on remove. On tape, on record, coming through your headphones, Nap Eyes are gentle and kind and welcoming, but they also still hold you at arms' length, a little; there's a lot of space for your thoughts to roam around amid the lyrics, a lot of technical skill just sort of barely holding its breath behind the steady pacing. There's room for your thoughts and feelings to dissolve all the way in.

But live, it's different: the songs are the same, the band is the same, but they let Brad Loughead, their guitarist, do something with all those spaces, all that room. Brad is an amazing guitarist, a shredder with a shiny, expansive heart, and his playing is the kind that rings every bell in me so instantly that it catches me off-guard even when I'm expecting it. You know the type I mean: your Paul Saulniers, your Marissa Paternosters, people where there's no middle clouding step between the feeling they're feeling and the sound they make out of it, just one clear pure playful ringing charge straight through. These solos, these little moments of snarling and scratching and soaring in the middle of Nap Eyes' steady nod, they feel perfect; like a little glimpse, a new articulation, of the feelings glowing in the centre of these songs. Pure, shining. Alive. They feel alive.

[buy Thought Rock Fish Scale]

Posted by Emma at April 10, 2016 6:40 PM
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Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

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