Eyes Ninety - Eyes Ninety (Swashbuckling Hobo)
Old heads from Brisbane’s Chinese Burns (not to be confused with Sydney band Chinese Burns Unit) and The Standing 8 Count populate this band, which has been kicking around the River City (does anyone even call it that?) for four years. The eponymous record (vinyl and download) is its first output and came out in 2015.
If you know the members’ previous bands you know the postcode in which “Eyes Ninety” resides. There are elements of its predecessors but its music stands alone. Wanna label it? Let’s call it “swampy punk rock”.
Neither of those component descriptors are particularly adequate, I know. Like, what’s “swamp rock”? Tony Joe White? Beasts of Bourbon? Don’t even start me on “punk”. Let’s say that this is a record that’s vaguely blues-based, lo-fi, has a tendency to erupt in angry sonic outbursts, and sometimes falls apart. Fuck it. We live in the Digital Age, You can hear samples for yourself here.
“Eyes Ninety” opens with the double-blast of “I Don’t Wanna Live (In Your World Any More)” and “Canton II” that will put musical purists right off-side. These two lurch and shudder, the former losing the plot at one point. It’s the sound of guitars acting like condemned buses going head to head in a smash-up derby.
Musicality is a funny thing - the bands that have it tend to look down on those that don’t. There is an element of musicality in the sounds Eyes Ninety makes but it sounds unschooled and sometimes accidental, while’s there no shortage of dynamics in a few tracks, especially “Fancy Ending”.
“Ants” is a relentless, pulsing groove spattered with spidery guitars and an angsty vocal, it’s a little Eddy Current Suppression Ring around its unkempt edges. “The Croup” is almost conventional in its song structure while “Windmill” is a throwback to college radio in the ‘90s, with a breakdown that would do Thurston Moore proud.
The jokey vocal buried in “Team Australia” doesn’t hide the guitar abuse that’s underway.
If Eyes Ninety could be teleported back to the days of Sydney’s late ‘80s Evening Star Hotel scene, they’d be kings (putting the Evil Star’s hard drug fixation to one side.) If you lived in that time and survived, you’ll love the sounds they make. Better still, put them on at Goner Fest in Memphis.