Despite this post being written as a recommendation for a single album, in reality it acts as an advert for a lesser known indie-rock band’s two-album discography. In this short review, I will try to allocate the majority of the focus on Nap Eyes first album: ‘Whine of the Mystic’. Nonetheless, before beginning, I’d like to recommend taking just over an hour to explore this Nova Scotia’s discography in its entirety. If you don’t know if you want to do this, look at it this way: it’s about half the length of Sun Kil Moon’s recent album and it’s certain to provide you much greater levels of enjoyment.
To call Nap Eyes a lesser known band is maybe to downplay their sizeable audience. With a monthly listener rate of around 30,000 on Spotify, Nap Eyes enjoy moderate recognition. To put this figure into perspective, they receive around 10,000 more monthly listeners than welsh rock-legends Super Furry Animals‘ front-man Gruff Rhys. Nonetheless, Nap Eyes still fly under the radar somewhat in the alternative music scene, not yet earning favour with music magazines (those who have covered their releases have tended to allocate little time to their reviews).
As stated above, Nap Eyes was formed in Nova Scotia; Halifax, to be pedantic. Led by vocalist and guitarist Nigel Chapman, the band possess a laid back style, with their songs drifting slowly, and Chapman’s voice dragging along in the forefront. Like many mainstream musicians, Chapman possesses the self-awareness to understand his vocal range is limited, and thus shares a singing style with the likes of Lou Reed, Leonard Cohen, and Bob Dylan, as can be so clearly heard on ‘Lion in Chains’, a track from Nap Eyes’ latest album: Thought Rock Fish Scale (2016).
Whine of the Mystic is the perfect first album: possessing solid tracks throughout, but lacking a single worthy of the one-hit-wonder status, they demonstrate great ability without peaking too soon. Tracks like ‘Dreaming Solo’ mirror the vocal style of Reed with great success, but other tracks on the album ensure they don’t get bogged down by being labelled Lou Reed impersonators. Tracks such as ‘Night of the First Show’ possess a quicker tempo, and vocals of Chapman show levels of exertion uncharacteristic of a Reed performance. Catchy guitar riffs and a lighthearted air to all of their music, the simplicity but effectiveness of their work is reminiscent of a another legend: Jonathan Richman. Being in such company, is it any surprise that their work is so highly rated by those who take the time to listen to it?
Insofar, this review would suggest that Nap Eyes are nothing but copycats. A label given rightly to the likes of ‘Temples’, it would be unfair to burden the Canadian band with the same derogatory remarks. Unlike Temples, Nap Eyes are successful in developing a persona unique to their band: a mix of confidence of modesty, they write great music without the big heads so often associated with such music.
Nap Eyes possess the ability, style and persona of a band who deserve fame much surpassing their current levels. Whether or not they will achieve this is unclear, but what is certain is that you should definitely give their band – and this album in particular – the chance it deserves.
Artist: Nap Eyes
Label: Paradise of Bachelors
Release date: July 10, 2015 (Independently released first March 25, 2014)
Play time: 39 mins
Standout track: Night of the First Show