March 08, 2004

The Red-Eyed Legends "The High I Feel When I'm Low"

I've always been really divisive about Chris Thomson's bands. I've either really really loved them or really really hated them--no middle ground whatsoever. Loved Monorchid, hated Skull Kontrol. Loved Los Mordidas. Hated Ignition. Loved Circus Lupus. Other projects of his were too brief, too small to be of any consequence. When he's on--when the rock guitar and his sneery vocals are on full-speed--he's really, really on. When he's not--such as the merely OK garage rock of Skull Kontrol--he's boring. I love the man's voice, but it's what he does with it that makes or breaks the band. But you must remember, he's never had a long-lasting band--none have ever made it past two or three records.

I don't really care much for Red Eyed Legends debut EP, The High I Feel When I'm Low. Heck, at first I didn't even realize it was Chris Thomson! The only thing that piqued my curiosity about it was finding out that this man, this legend, was the mastermind of the band. Only once or twice does his magical voice stand out--"Here's to Being Beautiful" and "Red Moustache"and when it does, it's brilliant. Othewise, it's a sonic mess. The record sounds as if it was recorded on a tape player stuck in a leather jacket in the back of the studio. There's no clarity at all. While its true that if the music's good it doesn't really matter about the quality of the recording, but in this instance, it's simply too messy to really make much of an impression.

To be fair, it's not that bad of a record. Even if the songs are a mess, there are a few interesting ideas on here--especially the dubbed out trickery of "Hamlicus (Super Indoor Version)"--and I really like the pulsing rock drive that peers through the messy mix. If it were cleaner, it would be great. As it stands, The High When I Feel When I'm Low is merely OK. I bet it's better live. It pretty much would HAVE to be. But you know what? At the end of the day, I'm not too worried about it, because one of two things will happen. Either they'll get their act together for the next record, or there won't be a next record. Either way, my opinion of Thomson still stands, even if this record's not up to his usual standards.

--Joseph Kyle

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