The Eames Era The Second EP

[C Student; 2004]

Styles: pop-rock, alternative rock
Others: Pixies, The Go-Gos, Blondie

I'm always embarrassed to bring my non-initiated friends to their first underground rock concert. I've gotten used to the no-dance, clap-only-if-everyone-else-does attitude of my Chicago home base, but for those used to No Doubt and Weezer, a trip to see good-natured rock bands like the Walkmen or the Constantines can be a jarring experience. I remember one friend, after seeing the Unicorns at a sold-out show, ask me, "Did anyone even want to be there?" I had trouble answering her question.

Face it: there's not much actual fun in the underground music universe. It is a microcosm based on points and hierarchy. Did you see Black Dice? Oh, you did? Well, when did you see them? Yeah, when I saw them I got their tour-only split with the Sweaty Envelopes.*

Well, the Eames Era probably haven't heard of Black Dice; and if they have, they don't care if you've bought their earliest 12" off eBay. The Eames Era are just a great dance-pop band with no pretension, filling that extra-space inside their hearts with eagerly strummed guitars and catchy back-up vocals.

Listening to The Second EP, it's easy to picture this New Orleans quintet bopping around on a small stage bright with a dozen multi-colored lights. In my Eames Era fantasy, the band rips through the better-than-the-Go-Go's of "I Said" while smiling and looking at each other as if to say, "Yeah! This sounds really cool! I love this song!" No, check that. In my fantasy they say, "Yeah! This sounds really neat!"

Each of the four songs brims with real enthusiasm and fun. Lead singer Ashley Phillips eschews the over-the-top sexiness many indie women have gone for recently, instead sounding like a teenager whose greatest wish is to sing in her older brother's rock band. The cheeriness and light-hearted fervor of her voice would carry these songs if they weren't already floating away on such catchy and supremely tight instrumentation. The guitars on each track have a beautiful surf-jangle sound, and the bass pops with melody lines worthy of the best singles of the 1950s.

Later in my Eames Era fantasy, we'd all be able to redo high school prom and the Eames Era would provide the music. And instead of getting drunk and shamelessly trying to position ourselves to hook up with the most popular member of the opposite sex at the lake house the next day, we'd all dance and laugh and help the band out with the handclaps. We'd scream along with "Could Be Anything" as balloons came down from a net on the gym ceiling and we search for each other in the helium rain.

The Eames Era is giving us a chance to love music again because it's catchy and passionate. You don't need obtuse literary references or crushing feedback to make an important record; you just need a hook and the sincerity to make it fun. If this EP represents the band as well as I hope, they're ready to be the Andrew W.K. of the pop world and champion all these values I've laid out.

My Eames Era fantasy most likely will never come true, and that's too bad. But if they keep their earnest attitude and come up with enough hooks for a full length, they may play prom yet. And, with enough luck, they may even tour with Black Dice.

*While you read this footnote, 14 hipsters type “Sweaty Envelopes” into allmusic.com’s search engine.

1. Could Be Anything
2. All of Seventeen
3. You May Not Know My Name
4. I Said

Most Read