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From myreccollection; May 16, 2008

seminal austin 1989 release!

Hello Young Lovers Glass Eye
Restless/Bar None

by myreccollection

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 (1979-80)

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]
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May 9, 2008

Review of Every Woman's Fantasy

Glass Eye
RexyRex

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.
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From The Austin Chronicle; April 7, 2006

Every Woman's Fantasy

Glass Eye
RexyRex
3.5 stars
By Greg Beets

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.

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Glass Eye photo (April '06)From Austin American-Statesman, XL Music
Thursday, April 6, 2006

Look, Glass Eye's back! Come see what they've been up to

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 triteness.

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 low.

"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 that.

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 things."

McCarty thinks for a moment. "Yeah, I'd do that."
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Kathy photo (March '06)

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.

From david.austin360blogs.com
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
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From The Austin Chronicle; March 17, 2006; p 44

By Greg Beets
album artAlthough 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 its wake.

"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 indicate.

"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.'"
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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.

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From Austin American-Statesman, 'For the record'
Thursday, October 19, 1989

Glass Eye turns out another genuine original

Hello Young Lovers

Glass Eye
Restless/Bar None
3.5 stars
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)

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From The Austin Chronicle; April 9, 1993; pp 27, 30

Goodbye, Glass Eye
The End of a Decade in the Balance
By Jason Cohen
art image     Since this is something of a eulogy, or extended epitaph, permit me some first-person reverie for a moment: Before I ever lived here, Glass Eye was my primary musical association with Austin. A couple of fellow DJs at my college radio station, one of whom has since moved here too, got me into them when Huge came out. I remember being thrilled to find it, and Marlo as well, at a used record store in Minneapolis. Then I caught them on the Bent By Nature tour in Chicago, where my friends and I all bought those cool pastel t-shirts. Glass Eye's status as an Austin band, or their status in Austin itself, didn't mean anything to us—they were just one of the most interesting bands in the country.
    When l finally visited Austin for the first time, a trip that led to a whimsical grad school application and eventually, relocation here, Hello Young Lovers had just come out. My friend Marla played it for me on a Walkman while running her dog around Town Lake, then took me to Brian Beattie's house for an interview. Brian was eating sweet potatoes mashed into yogurt, Kathy had just been on the phone with Daniel Johnston (he told her Glass Eye wouldn't get anywhere if they didn't get on a major label) and I asked lots of stupid questions. I attempted to sell a Glass Eye story to Option and failed, but began writing for the magazine as a result of that pitch, one of my first real efforts as a freelance writer. When I moved here in the fall of 1990, it only seemed appropriate that the very night I arrived, Glass Eye played the Cannibal [Club].
    Now, after ten years, Glass Eye are breaking up. So I'm leaving Austin, at least for a while. Okay—it's actually a total coincidence but I can't help finding some corny serendipity in it anyway.
    It's not hard to understand why the band is packing it in—bassist Brian Beattie, guitarist Kathy McCarty, drummer Scott Marcus and keyboardist Stella Weir have been at it for a decade, though Marcus and Weir were replaced by Dave Cameron and Sheri Lane for three of those years. The band's popular peak, both in and out of Austin, has passed. They spent the last two years getting into, and then out of, the big record deal from hell.
    "It's just the kind of thing where it's getting to the point where it was not as much fun," Beattie says, paraphrasing Crosby, Stills & Nash. "The idea of us not playing together seemed like something that would improve my life. Kathy's upset about it, she's been saying, 'How can you guys do this to me? I hate you guys,' and Stella wishes we could keep it together, but Scott and I are ready to see what else is going on." There will be one more Glass Eye record, a 16- or 17-track CD they'll be recording this month.
    Beattie will continue as a producer—best known for his work with Ed Hall and the Dead Milkmen, he's currently recording locals Glaze and Hyperfluff (ex-Tyrant Swing), and is buying an eight-track with a member of the latter band. As a songwriter and performer, he's working on a musical called "Sensitive Hillbilly," and plans to play in a voice-and-piano context at some point in the future. He'll also collaborate with McCarty on a record of Daniel Johnston songs by her, exciting news for anyone familiar with her recorded version of "Living Life."
    "I'm going to produce that record with her and play bass and piano, and Scott might play drums," Beattie says. "Every song's going to be different. One of the mistakes people have made when they do Daniel's songs is they take all the edges and sand them down, squeeze them down to pop craft. We're going to try and keep some more primitive sounds in there and do the songs with a little more dirt."
    That's what Glass Eye always did. Though the band has pop smarts to spare, there was always an edge in the songs they wrote, the kind of stories they told, the angular, contradictory impulses that guided their music. Glass Eye were original in the best possible way, the only way they knew how—which is to say that initially they didn't know what they were doing at all.
    I haven't listened to old Glass Eye in a while; I would go see them play every few months, and got to hear the demos of their new material a few times before my tape was stolen in N.Y.C. (somewhere in the East Village there's probably an unreleased Glass Eye tape for sale, right next to John S. Hall's penis). When I put on the albums to write this article, I found myself marveling at the little tug of wars of bass and guitar, the manic bursts of keyboards, the harsh rhythms darting around minimal song structures and straightforward melodies. But besides the adventurous aspects of Glass Eye, I was also reminded of how many great songs they had, songs that were musically memorable and lyrically rich and funny and poetic. Certainly Huge and Bent By Nature are two of the great Austin albums made in the Eighties, and two great American indie albums as well.
    "The balance of personalities in Glass Eye was really quite nice," Beattie observes. "Scott's all the way on the right, he's really rooted in the earth, and Stella is all the way over on the left, she's insane, she literally makes up some parts just by putting her fingers down, by random chance. Kathy and I are in the middle, she's more of the song person, and I'm over more towards where Stella is." But even if McCarty is one of the band's conservatives, no one would describe her sensibility or persona as conventional—that's part of what makes her, and the rest of the band, intriguing artists. But don't try telling Beattie that Glass Eye is odd. Though it can easily be explained as a product of being an unpigeonholeable anomaly in a conservative music scene, Beattie remains mystified at his band's "weird" reputation.
    "I swear, I thought we were mainstream rock'n'roll, I thought we were just slightly to the left of the stuff they played on KLBJ," he says. "Then we started winning best avant-garde band. It was our little niche."  (April 9, 1993)

Glass Eye play their last show at Liberty Lunch Friday 9 with Moist Fist and Direction. 
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From History of Rock Music - The Eighties 

By  Piero Scaruffi

(translated from Italian using free web translations)
    One of the most audacious experiments of the Texan rock of years '80 was that one of the Glass Eye, group of Austin begun in 1985 with the autoproduced EP Marlo, a collection of arduous elettro-jazz songs with the bottom of Brian Beattie in beautiful sight, the crooked rhythms of Scott Marcus to impose impossible times, and the timbriche "acids" of the keyboardist Stella Weir to disfigure those little of melodies sung by Kathy McCarty. Beattie is responsible for the harmonies "fusion" and the difficult rhythms that graft jazz and avant-guard onto the ancient POP.
    The first album, Huge (Wrestler), of 1986 widely maintained to those promises, while the successive Bent By Nature (Bar/None) of 1988, with Dave Cameron on drums and Sheri Wools to the keyboards, try one less extreme synthesis. The idea is however always that of one to make some rock a little bit askew, with the instrumental parts hiccupping, the irregular times, the song more jazz than folk, and a worthy composure of a chamber quartet (but Kicking The Dog stamps funky). Beattie raves with I take from saloon in Comeback, inserting the royal guitar of the southern school in more "open" harmonic outlines, from free improvisation, until to lick the first Soft Machine in Living With Reptiles. Of other songs the ballads of McCarty (like Whiskey and Oblivion) make one think of Joni Mitchell of average age or of Grace Slick of the Jefferson Starship (Christine). It is a sound perhaps too much cerebral, more from new wave than from college-POP.
    The experimental quality of their sound comes together in manner more imaginative and less conceptual on Hello Young Lovers of 1989, since, with the original formation again together, boasts in fact their better pieces built, more ear-angering and more dragging. Without to renounce their harmonic acrobatics, and to an omnipresent base of swing, the Glass Eye succeed to chisel pieces, dragging to the inside of which coexist, alternate, and integrate rhythmic lines of blues, country, jazz and funk, continuously stirred and fragmented. Their variations on the bluegrass (Hoedown), the honky-tonk (Land Of People), the fanfare funk (Nothing Please), the southern boogie (Charhead), the bluesrock (White Walls) and the jazzrock (Penguin) become refined masterpieces of post-modernist arrangement: water down the codes of those son-in-laws in a tangle of misleading codes. McCarty of the song it surpasses Joni Mitchell, it proposes itself a more warm and free-range garment, exchanging the affectation singing for a more immediate communication simply without renouncing a seat between still a lot of jazzato (God Take All, Get Lost); but its noble contralto acquires male vigor in Break The Black Line and Endless Day, reaching the apex of supporting singing and fineness of accompaniment in The Crooked Place (and the apex of the Disc).
ORIGINAL TEXT: Uno degli esperimenti piu` audaci del rock texano degli anni '80 fu quello dei Glass Eye, gruppo di Austin esordito nel 1985 con l'EP autoprodotto Marlo, una raccolta di ardue ballate elettro-jazz con il basso di Brian Beattie in bella vista, i ritmi sghembi di Scott Marcus ad imporre tempi impossibili e le timbriche "acide" della tastierista Stella Weir a deturpare quel poco di melodia cantata da Kathy McCarty. Beattie e` responsabile delle armonie "fusion" e dei ritmi spigolosi che innestano jazz e avanguardia sul vetusto pop.
    Il primo album, Huge (Wrestler), del 1986 mantenne ampiamente quelle promesse, mentre il successivo Bent By Nature (Bar/None) del 1988, con Dave Cameron alla batteria e Sheri Lane alle tastiere, tento` una sintesi meno estrema. L'idea e` comunque sempre quella di fare del rock un po' a sghimbescio, con le parti strumentali singhiozzanti, i tempi irregolari, il canto piu` jazz che folk, e una compostezza degna di un quartetto da camera (ma Kicking The Dog scalpita funky). Beattie delira con piglio da saloon in Comeback, innestando i chitarrismi rozzi della scuola sudista in schemi armonici piu` "aperti," da improvvisazione libera, fino a lambire i primi Soft Machine in Living With Reptiles. D'altro canto le ballate di McCarty (come Whiskey e Oblivion) fanno pensare alla Joni Mitchell di mezza eta` o alla Grace Slick della Jefferson Starship (Christine). E` un sound forse troppo cerebrale, piu` da new wave che da college-pop.
    La qualita` sperimentale del loro sound viene amalgamata in maniera piu` fantasiosa e meno concettuale su Hello Young Lovers del 1989, che, con la formazione originale di nuovo insieme, vanta infatti i loro brani meglio costruiti, piu` orecchiabili e piu` trascinanti. Senza rinunciare alle loro acrobazie armoniche, e a una onnipresente base di swing, i Glass Eye riescono a cesellare brani trascinanti all'interno dei quali coesistono, si alternano e integrano linee ritmiche blues, country, jazz e funk, continuamente rimescolate e frammentate. Le loro variazioni sul bluegrass (Hoedown), l'honky-tonk (Land Of People), la fanfara funk (Nothing Please), il boogie sudista (Charhead), il bluesrock (White Walls) e il jazzrock (Penguin) diventano pertanto dei raffinati capolavori di arrangiamento post-modernista: annacquano i codici di quei generi in un groviglio di codici fuorvianti. McCarty dal canto suo supera Joni Mitchell, proponendosi in una veste piu` calda e ruspante, scambiando la ricercatezza canora per una comunicativita` piu` immediata pur senza rinunciare a un fraseggio ancora molto jazzato (God Take All, Get Lost); ma il suo nobile contralto acquista maschio vigore in Break The Black Line e Endless Day, toccando l'apice di portamento canoro e di finezze d'accompagnamento in The Crooked Place (e forse l'apice del disco).

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Glass Eye Discography; April 9, 1993

By Jason Cohen
album art Marlo (self-released EP): The distinctive elements of Glass Eye—sparse guitar, skewed rhythms and quixotic keyboard fills-were already there on the debut, even if their execution was pure primitive accident. Five originals and a cover of the song the band got its name from, "Glass Eye," by Fang.

album art Huge (Wrestler): What was nascent on Marlo is realized on Huge, thanks to stronger songwriting and more confident playing. The record that coincides with their greatest local popularity and initial national profile, it includes "Lake of the Moon" and the immortal, AC/DC-ish "I Don't Need Drugs to be Fucked Up."

Glass Eye (cassette): A self-released cassette EP with live tracks and some John Croslin produced studio material.

album art Bent By Nature (Bar None): The Sheri Lane and Dave Cameron-era LP has some of Glass Eye's best-known and best-loved songs: the "hit" ballad "Christine," "Comeback," the sing-along "Dimsey Naish" and "Living With Reptiles," a song about then ex-member Stella's fear of lizards and snakes. "Our strongest album, material-wise, for sure, and production-wise," Beattie says. "But I think our performances are better on Hello Young Lovers."

album art Christine EP (Bar None): Two tracks from Bent By Nature plus one new original and a cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "Cecilia."

album art Hello Young Lovers (Bar None): The most recent Glass Eye album came out in 1989, with Weir and Marcus not only back in the band, but even writing and singing a song each. More deliberately crafted than its predecessors, the record features two of McCarty's best-ever efforts: the urgent, abrasively hooky "The Crooked Place," and "God Take All," a lovely ballad countermanded by Beattie's snaky fuzz bass. "I go to the store, I run my chores and I play in this stupid band/ never doing nothing is the thing that I can't stand," Beattie sings in "Nothing, Please," describing a very Austin sentiment.

album art "Satellite of Love / Rock of Hand" 7-inch (Bar None): An anthemic take on Lou Reed with McCarty on vocals, backed with a bizarrely funny spoken tale about her brother.

Bar None will reissue Marlo and Huge on one CD shortly; the final Glass Eye album, which Beattie claims will be called Monkey Semen, Monkey Doodoo, follows.  (April 9, 1993)
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