From myreccollection; May 16,
seminal austin 1989 release!
Hello Young Lovers
writer of music related journalism since
1979: Pop Culture Press magazine (1991-2006), Skyscraper, Magnet,
Option, the Austin Chronicle, and EXPOSURE (1981-84) and NANU
Glass Eye was so perfect by the time 1989 came around, it's actually pretty scary how good this album was/is. They were back in their true form, with drummer Scott Marcus and keyboardist Stella Weir back in the fold. I'm not sure that I ever knew why they weren't in the band, and pretty sure I never asked either of them. I do know that the in-between period was when Scott, Stella and Kathy McCarty all "acted" in Linklater's 'Slacker' movie. They didn't do too much musically (that I can recall), and whatever broke the band apart had been healed by early 1989. Just in time for the making of the second Glass Eye record for Bar None records (which, at this point, was being distributed by Restless Records). It was, perhaps, their most evenly distributed work, as far as getting input from all four members. There are even credits for the songs that were started with the interim line-up (Dave Cameron and Sheri Lane) and finished by the re-united original. Most impressively, there's a Scott Marcus song, with vocals, called "White Walls" that's one of their best tunes, and certainly as impressive as anything either of the two main songwriters (Kathy McCarty and Brian Beattie) had ever done. Stella's own contribution is "Get Lost," a weirdly sad non-love song. There's also an incredible instrumental at the end of side one called "Calm Song" (named as such by Dave Cameron's young son Dylan) that is surprising dark, murky, almost avant-classical in nature (perhaps a nod to the fact that they were consistently voted "best Avant Garde/Other" band year after year in the Chronicle poll even though they thought they were a regular pop band!). The majority of the songs still swing between Beattie and McCarthy, however. The group had really developed a harder edge for this album. They had evolved into a much louder and heavier band, thanks, perhaps in part, to their alter-ego Glam/Metal band Monniker. They were playing more shows with the likes of Ed Hall and the Pocket Fishrmen, and larger shows by the Jesus Lizard and the Butthole Surfers. They would become a bit harder sounding yet, for their last record (which was started in 1992 and finally finished in 2006...and is another story in itself!). Released in the early fall of 1989, it was one of those defining Austin albums released just before my trip to Berlin and, weeks after I came back, the fall of the Wall. They did an "in-store" acoustically playing in front of Sound Exchange on a sunny September afternoon, with a small crowd gathered around Guadalupe and 21st. Street. I thought it was great that they asked to do the appearance, even if it was outside the store, because Sound Exchange was usually passed over in favor of Waterloo, and Glass Eye was considered a Waterloo band. Top rung! That was something I'd work on more with the next spring's SXSW, getting more prominent in-stores. At this point this cassette was in my car's tape player a lot. It was released during the period when promos were mostly issued on cassette, with vinyl going to radio, and CDs still too expensive )or labels still too cheap!) to give away. My vinyl copy was recently obtained at a garage sale and has a college radio station's call letters scrawled across the front. It appears to be unplayed. Figures!
[NOTE: In researching parts of this post, on the Glass Eye website and elsewhere, I saw the name Dave Cameron replaced with Lisa Cameron. At first I thought a mistake had been made. I knew Dave casually, and played shows with his bands, but I would be wrong in saying I knew him (or, really, most of the fellow scenesters I knew back then!) really well. Even still, it's surprising to learn that he has gone through a transition from Dave Cameron to Lisa Cameron. Read Kathy McCarty's excellent interview for the Austin Chronicle here: Lisa Cameron]
May 9, 2008
Review of Every Woman's
By JJ McMoon
From the fun-house organs and baby-talk lyrics of "Boring Story" to the Mexican-trumpet send-off of "Mushroom Song," Glass Eye's Every Woman's Fantasy is yet another triumph in a healthy list of titles. Their sound is one of cohesive chaos, melodic discordance, and memorable hooks, all brought together in one of the most unique styles ever heard in independent music. This release sat unmastered for nearly 13 years, but its message is timeless. Its bizarre and often haunting melodies are almost enhanced by this period of dormancy like a finely aged wine.
If "Boring Story" is the preface to the journey we are about to take, then "Ruin" is the first chapter. Take the excitement of a record deal, catch yourself whining about its demise, and then express your justified rage in a curse and the vibe becomes crystal clear. With Kathy McCarty's strong voice belting, "Your name has always been 'Ruin'!," Brian Beattie's wonderful fretless bass driving the tune, Stella Weir's haunting keyboards lathering on the epic, and Scott Marcus's pocket drumming reminiscent of Bonham tying it all together, they take the message of rejection and heartbreak to a spot you will feel in your bones. It's every sadness of the human condition, and yet they do this without your feeling depressed.
Just as we're getting used to this dark tone, however, they change it up. Into our ears comes one of the happiest melodies on the release, ironically titled, "My Dog is Dead." A happy-go-lucky tune that anyone who's ever lost a pet can easily relate to, its traditional structure and beautifully layered female backing vocals (all of the members sing at one point or another on the CD) make it a tune you will find yourself humming in your sleep.
From there, we move to "Chaos Rules," the most rocking tune so far. With its Zeppelin-esque rhythms and guitar riffs choreographed brilliantly against Stella Weir's retro keyboard moods, we're taken away from traditional song structure as we know it. These guitars and keyboards are a signature of the band's sound. Just when you think you've got the tune down, in comes a sound you haven't heard used that way before. It's new and exciting and different, yet somehow... familiar.
It's a perfect setup for "Exodus Song," which is the only song on the CD where this doesn't happen. Instead, they take a wonderful rock-solid piece, 100% analog with raw guitars, a more traditional bass line, and straightforward beat, and bring this puzzle together with a 15-hit dramatic finale. It's as if this song were building up to the beginning of the CD's 2nd act, "Sad and Lonely," which could make Glass Eye one of the only bands in history that can make you rock with a beat less than 60bpm. In this song, we hear depression matched with intrigue, curiosity matched with despair, identifying perfectly that mask we all wear... Wanting to express ourselves but afraid of our vulnerability... Forcing ourselves to play when we really want to cry... Here, it is the drummer, Scott, who almost speaks the lyrics as Kathy's tasteful and raw guitars take it to its climax. It leaves you excited and out of breath.
From here we move to playful, one of Glass Eye's trademarks from the early days. "Cicada Buzz" has a soul of its own, playing off a funky keyboard and guitar line. Coaxed gently by wonderful guitar-sound effects and yet another unique and brilliant bass line, it's one of my favorites on the CD.
"Poison Water" introduces Stella's voice as a lead vocal and her words as poetry. One of the main advantages of a band of four singers is the ability to sound huge without many effects. With the mix of male and female voices driving home the chorus, it gives the raw sound of at least 3 different guitar parts a depth rarely seen in modern music anymore.
This CD has the trademark of many guitar parts telling the story, and "Big Game" continues this technique to the greatest extent. It's been wildly publicized that this CD was inspired by a record deal gone bad. It is with "Big Game" that we are reminded of this, that the extravagance of the other songs we've just heard were a wonderful indulgence in the midst of rejection. But hey, it's all about the fun, right? The music and lyrics mix in such a way as to say, "Yeah, we rock, yeah that guy sucks, and yeah we're still here."
Although it's hard to pick a favorite with so many tastes and styles to choose from, the tune that has touched me the most in this work is perhaps "Quiet Town," the 10th song on the CD. The lyrics are filled with such brilliant imagery, painted eloquently by Kathy's vocals and Brian's throbbing bass, and backed by yet another set of layered guitars, gorgeous harmonies and an <accordion!>, that it almost leaves a tear in your eye. With lines such as "Once I knew joy in someone else... Seems ever since then, I don't belong to myself... " you're left with the taste of a small town on your lips and the love of life in your heart.
The third act takes us back to playful and mysterious. Brian's "She's Frozen," is a rather gothic tale that sits in Glass Eye's more bizarre repertoire. A strikingly soulful bass solo marks this tune, along with harmonized female vocals that leave goose bumps on the back of your neck...
And finally, the CD's climax arrives with "Mushroom Song." After the journey we've just been through, it's a welcome conclusion to our weary ears. The Mexican trumpets round out this story of lust perfectly and we're left with the same feeling we always have when a Glass Eye set concludes: a strong desire for more. We're satiated, yet hooked... Addicted to a style that we know is rare and precious and perhaps unlikely to be experienced again... There's no greater value for the money than a CD that stays in your car's CD player for years and years. Thanks, everybody, for making such great work for the rest of us to listen to.
When last we heard from Glass Eye in 1993, fallout from a record deal gone wrong sank the quartet after a decade-long run as Austin's foremost avant-pop enterprise. Although a final LP was planned, it took 13 years for Every Woman's Fantasy to emerge. Given the circumstances of the band's demise, the album's comparatively dark and angry tone isn't surprising. If the stylistic thread connecting Glass Eye to more jagged local contemporaries like Scratch Acid wasn't apparent before, Fantasy brings that connection into sharp relief. Bassist Brian Beattie's growl takes center stage on pile-driving opener "Boring Story," a self-effacing commentary on the band's record nondeal. Guitarist Kathy McCarty sings "My Dog Is Dead" as an aching portrait of grief unfettered by aspirations toward grandiosity. "Exodus Song" is Glass Eye's tweaked variation on the heavy metal epic, the funereal theme returning with added languor on "Sad and Lonely," drummer Scott Marcus' stoic missive from the shattered heart of adolescence. McCarty's Linda Thompson-style folk tangent finally flowers on the dour "Quiet Town," while Beattie's "She's Frozen" utilizes accordion and vibes to effect a morbid Continental tone. This isn't the product of a happy ending, but in veering away from the pop aspirations of 1988's Bent by Nature and 1989's Hello Young Lovers, Every Woman's Fantasy succeeds in fleshing out Glass Eye's legacy by leaving the roughest edges intact.
Look, Glass Eye's back! Come see what they've been
By Joe Gross
photo: Amber Novak
To hang out with the newly reconstituted Glass Eye is
to hang with a bunch of grown-up siblings. The
semilegendary Austin quartet formerly lived under the
same roof, still communicate through in-jokes and take an
us-against-the world stance when goings get rough.
Of course, it's tempting to say they're family, but
that's a cliché, embarrassing in its
During the act's primary career from 1983-'93—a
period that encompassed almost perfectly the birth and
rise of American independent rock—Glass Eye tried
very hard to avoid clichés. The
band—guitarist Kathy McCarty, bassist Brian
Beattie, drummer Scott Marcus and keyboardist and token
native Texan Stella Weir—moved gracefully and
deliberately between hook and feedback, between songcraft
and noisemaking. The band members triangulated their spot
and worked the soil as if it were their birthright.
But some clichés can't be avoided. The endless
touring in a windowless van for months on end. The $5 per
diems. A final record deal that never actually produced a
record and helped to shatter the band.
But as another cliché about rock goes, those were
different times. Well past a decade after they called it
quits, Glass Eye is back, with a new album called "Every
Woman's Fantasy" in tow. Same Glass Eye vibe: deft
songwriting, weird flourishes. The band even had a blast
playing at this year's South by Southwest, more for
out-of-town fans than any sort of careering. Glass Eye's
record release show is Friday at Room 710.
But why now?
"Brian finally finished the record," McCarty says. It's
after rehearsal and the band is breaking down its
equipment. The strings on Beattie's headless, fretless
and nerdy Steinberger bass are the same as before. Weir's
keyboards are so old they're "vintage."
"Yeah, that's really about it," Beattie says, "The thing
that led up to it was doing Kathy's record (McCarty's
2005 solo album, 'Another Day in the Sun') and getting
out the old Glass Eye tapes to learn something about the
way we played the songs."
"See, we were one of the last bands of that era to break
up," McCarty adds. "Other bands would have these reunion
shows two years later that were just milking it and
milking it. Brian in particular was very turned off by
this sort of behavior. He said, 'Our last show will be
our last show and we'll never play again!'"
But there's much at stake 13 years down the road. There's
no grind, no idea that maybe the band could be as big as,
say, the Chili Peppers in '88, no touring.
"We were out for four to five months a year every year
for about five years," McCarty said. "You would be gone
for months on end. I really envy bands today. Cell phones
and e-mail make life must make life easier."
Then again, Glass Eye's standards for touring are
"Kathy's van, bless her heart for buying it, had no air
conditioning, no radio and unfinished, bare metal
interior. People would lie down between the amps in the
back," Beattie says.
"We were happy to come home with rent money and to pay
bills," McCarty says. "If the Internet had been around
when Glass Eye was, it would have made a huge difference
for a band in our niche." She doesn't say this with
bitterness; it's just true. Bands today have both few
expectations of financial success and better
communication with their fans.
But the Internet is here, and the fans are probably still
out there. Would they tour again?
"We would have to be way more cutthroat now," McCarty
says. Then she pauses. This is (sorry) family after all.
"You know, I take it back," she adds. "I would tour with
you guys for hardly any money at all if the conditions
were right." A van with seats. Motel rooms, things like
But this is not 1991. Nirvana and the Amerindie breakout
is history. Nobody in this room has to do anything they
don't want to do.
"I had a record out last year," McCarty says. "There's a
lot of people who care about you and remember you, and
that's cool. But you kind of get in this space where
you're like, 'I'm not going to convince people who are
young now that I'm still cool.' That's just not very
dignified on some level to me."
Also, they are open to selling out.
"We need a song in an ad," Beattie says. "How about the
new Hummer commercial?"
"If we could sell out and do it with a Hummer, that would
be amazing," Weir says.
"But only if we could have a say in the ad," Beattie
continues. He points at McCarty. "We would need you
standing through the sunroof with an RPG shooting at
McCarty thinks for a moment. "Yeah, I'd do that."
From Austin Chronicle, SXSW Live Shot: Like a Hurricane
By Jim Caligiuri
photo: John Anderson
The reappearance of Austin's Glass Eye after 16 years was, for those that remember when, an event. The audience was an international mix of old friends, who seemed to have weathered that time by shedding some hair. Vocalist/guitarist Kathy McCarty introduced the showcase with the promise of "a set list of hits," which led vocalist/bassist Brian Beattie to translate that as, "which ones we remember and which ones can we learn." This was no nostalgia trip however. It was big smiles all around, especially from keyboard player Stella Weir and the sound of a band playing angular, yet melodic post-punk that seemed remarkably fresh. They included a couple tunes from their new disc, Every Woman's Fantasy (RexyRex); Beattie sang the intensely rockin' "Cicada Buzz;" and Weir took the spotlight for the dissonant "Poison Water." The inclusion of darkly memorable "Christine," the somber drone of "Dempsey Nash," and the gleeful closing medley of "Living With Reptiles" and Paul Simon's "Cecilia" left the band, and the assembled faithful, breathless and feeling noticeably youthful at the close of another SXSW.
From All Music Review, mp3.com
By Bruce Eder
One of the most creative bands in alternative rock, Glass Eye both defines and defies the genre. With coleaders who have radically different sensibilities, this Austin band is sometimes very edgy, sometimes quite melodic, and usually sounds like no one else.
April 11, 2006
Rock Reunion: Glass Eye
Not exactly déjà vu (how could it be with a new album?) but eerily familiar, like bumping into kooky acquaintances at a South Austin dive past closing. Kathy McCarty, her hair looking electrically unhinged, stood center stage with her guitar, book ended by keyboardist Stella Weir and unflappable bassist Brian Beattie. Drummer Scott Marcus sat slightly off-center at the rear, same as it ever was. When McCarty introduced "God Take All" after 2 am as a song that required attention, the crowd heeded. "You should cry (as you listen to this)," she nearly pleaded to the audience, as if suddenly remembering the simple eloquence of her opus from 1989's "Hello Young Lovers" (which had been Glass Eye's swan song until "Every Woman's Fantasy" was rediscovered and mixed by Beattie). "God take all the dusty summer days, salt beautiful and hot," McCarty sang slowly, wistfully. Weir's keyboards swelled behind like a horde of belching cicadas, and Beattie's bass and Marcus' drums fused purposefully. Her ballad is far from any geeky remembrance of what Glass Eye once represented, when fans felt wrapped up in tales of slackers and drug fueled misadventures to appreciate non-irony in their repertoire. Glass Eye was always atypical. An oddball outfit in a town noted for spawning cults around the Butthole Surfers and Daniel Johnston (who had been scheduled to open this show), Glass Eye had as much melodic credibility as their New Sincerity peers, including the Reivers. For a band dubbed avant-garde, they were accessible despite the edge in their song arrangements, and also familiarly lovable in the way they played, talked and even argued on stage. Brother and sister with bass and guitar, though not related by blood. For their first proper gig in 13 years, the crowd was mostly reverential, behavior reinforced by the Alcoholic Beverage Commission's suspension of Room 710's liquor license. Scheduled opener Johnston, whose own adoration of monsters make he and Glass Eye co-conspirators in the strangest way, had cancelled his appearance, yet nothing diminished the excitement among the assembled. "It's a dry hole, a dry hole," Beattie yelled out early, perhaps not as tolerant as the sober fans. For a band whose demise was due in part to a botched record deal, the scene was chaotically fitting. Even McCarty's planned show closer "Whiskey" (an impromptu choice in itself) was derailed when frustrated club employees reluctantly turned on the lights sometime near 2:40 a.m., as someone cried out for "a rave" and the band seemed to be gathering new wind. None of it mattered as Glass Eye provided two hours of merriment, with McCarty and company making good on her promise to play "the hits," from "Dimsey Naish" to their jungle boogie cover of "Cecelia." The haunting "Christine" and the queasy "Living With Reptiles" (though who doesn't?) appeared late, and almost-forgotten anthems like "Lake Of The Moon," the still-hilarious "I Don't Need Drugs To Be F***ed Up" and "Mean" (from grocery observations in an H.E.B.) held up with the "Bent By Nature" standards. During the encores, a slightly shaky but wonderfully flaky "People In The House (Across The Street From Me)" packed a wallop, especially for dwellers in high-density areas. Any nostalgia factor was slaughtered with half a dozen "new" songs from "Every Woman's Fantasy" (a cassette-only version released in 1992 differs dramatically from the new album) that were dark, perverse and pounding, dating back to the era when the band was splintering. Weir sang artful lead vocals on a discordant "Poison Water," and Beattie and McCarty each showed their rock 'n' roll mettle with "Exodus Song" and "Chaos Rules" that were particularly powerful. Posted 4.11.2006 6:31:49 PM david.austin360blogs.com
By Greg Beets
mostly recorded over a decade ago, Glass Eye's
forthcoming "lost" final album, Every Woman's
Fantasy (RexyRex), could've been recorded last
week. Such is the mixed blessing of being a band
forever out of time.
"There wasn't really a movement that had come and passed
that dated our music," says bassist/vocalist/producer
Brian Beattie. "It still sounds like it did then because
it didn't have a cultural reference point outside of our
teeny social world."
The reunited Austin avant-pop quartet's SXSW show is
their first since 1993. With industry-related anxieties
behind them, Glass Eye plans to play occasional shows
around town to promote Every Woman's Fantasy and upcoming
reissues of earlier albums. "I'm relieved to be having
fun," says Beattie.
That wasn't the case in 1993. Glass Eye had soldiered for
a decade, becoming beloved in Austin and signing with
Bar/None, for whom they recorded 1988's Bent by
Nature and 1989's Hello Young Lovers. A big
record-deal-gone-bad followed, leaving disillusionment in
"We barely glanced the world of major label music, and it
was just as pathetic and sad as if we'd gotten fully into
it," recalls Beattie.
Perhaps that explains why Every Woman's Fantasy is
their hardest-rocking effort. Then again, [Glass Eye]
always had a more raucous edge than their albums
"We would play shows occasionally with bands like the
Butthole Surfers and the Jesus Lizard," Beattie says. "We
knew we weren't like those bands, but there was a side of
us that was stupid, noisy, and anal-expulsive."
Unlike the overt insurgency of the Buttholes, Glass Eye's
mutant strain of pop defied convention in a more
insidious manner. "We never really understood how strange
it sounded," reveals Beattie. "It took going back and
listening again after hearing normal stuff and thinking,
'Wow, I guess it was a little bit odd.'"
From Trouser Press
By Wif Stenger
From the very first bars of its six-song debut, Austin's Glass Eye staked out an utterly distinct spot on the cusp of pop and the avant-garde. With edgy vocals over herky-jerky rhythms and, slithering under it all, Brian Beattie's groaning, jazzy fretless bass lines, the quartet's music is sparse, angular and seemingly immune to genre divisions.
Guitarist Kathy McCarty's plaintive vocals wear a bit thin on Marlo (Beattie sings one song), but there's already ample evidence of daring songwriting that straddles the line between artiness and genuine fun and emotion. An acoustic piano provides a welcome counterpoint to the plinky electronic keyboards.
Drummer Scott Marcus and keyboardist/singer Stella Weir left after Huge and were replaced, respectively, by Dave Cameron and Sheri Lane for the ambitious Bent by Nature and Christine. Two of the EP tracks are on the album, and all five are on the CD, including the intriguing Latin essay of "Perder la Guerra," the goofy metallic "Ballad of Abraham Lincoln" ("oh, how he hated to shave!") and a cover of Paul Simon's "Cecilia."
In a surprising turn, Marcus and Weir rejoined Glass Eye prior to Hello Young Lovers. The reconstituted group's unique sound isn't very different, although richer and more fleshed-out this time. (The democratic songwriting and increased instrumental versatility doesn't hurt any.) Most importantly, Glass Eye continues to come up with lovely melodies, challenging rhythms and affecting lyrics, on stunning tracks like "God Take All" and "The Crooked Place."
Outside the group, McCarty contributed a solo cover of Daniel Johnston's "Living Life" to the 1989 Bar/None sampler, Time for a Change. Weir and Marcus also play in a band called Prohibition, while Beattie has produced LPs for the Dead Milkmen and Ed Hall. In late 1990, Glass Eye launched a spoof-metal side project under the name Mönikker.
From Austin American-Statesman, 'For the record'
Thursday, October 19, 1989
Glass Eye turns out another genuine
Hello Young Lovers
By Michael MacCambridge
By now, the problem of categorizing the sound of
Austin's Glass Eye has almost become a cliché.
Post-punk? Avant-garde? Art rock? The least obvious band
in the city to ever cover AC/DC?
Take your pick, the quartet—reconstituted to its original form with Scott Marcus and Stella Weir back in the fold for this release—continues to defy rock convention.
Hello Young Lovers finds lead singers and primary songwriters Kathy McCarty and Brian Beattie once again engaged in earnest reflections on an eclectic menu of considerations. And the new old Glass Eye once again wraps often-discordant melodies over staccato drumbeats for a musical texture all its own.
There's plenty to like (and to attract new fans) about Hello. McCarty's occasionally cloying vocals are better than ever here, especially on the lyrically striking God Take All, the battle-of-the-sexes study The Crooked Place and the impenetrable Break the Black Line, whose oblique lyrics can't obscure the album's most memorable music, with drummer Marcus riding a series of time changes over a wall of chiming guitars.
At his best, Beattie is just as sharp, especially on the sardonic Nothing, Please ("I go to the store, I run my chores and I play in this stupid band") and the conjured pain of In the Glass.
His skewed lyrical vision is evident again on The Penguin, liable to earn plenty of comparisons to Bent By Nature's Songs About Reptiles for its squeamish subject matter and creepy imagery. The Penguin sounds like Elvis Costello's Watching the Detectives crossed with a John Waters film. The lyrics are unmistakably Beattie: "New strains of bacteria growing everywhere/ But the doctors, researchers could hardly care/ They've got better things to think about/ Like new ways to poke a monkey's eyeballs out."
Less effective (or even distinctive) is the knocking down of straw men on Land of People, one of the more obvious songs Glass Eye has written.
Marcus takes lead vocals on the moody, vulnerable White Walls ("I get up and greet the new day with a hundred thoughts I've had a thousand ways"), which leads nicely into the similarly contemplative In the Glass.
But in the end, Hello is a McCarty show, as she closes the album with Endless Day, a song that stays true to the Glass Eye sound while constantly sounding seconds away from turning into some full-fledged Appalachian rocker from John Mellencamp's Lonesome Jubilee era (the added texture might be from guitarist-at-large Rich Brotherton, a guest on this track).
A decidedly acquired taste, Glass Eye's music initially sounds too peculiar to be affecting, but it grows. Hello Young Lovers isn't for everybody, but for music listeners still willing to sit down in front of the stereo and make an honest effort, the time will be well-spent.
Overarching themes of the band? Ultimate meanings? What is the group saying on this record? Beats me. Some things are better left unfathomed. (October 19, 1989)