Saturday, October 25, 2014

Doe Eye - Television

It looks ordinary from the cover, but this Television is anything but. Doe Eye is Maryam Qudus, an Afghan American whose parents never really approved of her playing music. She began a pre-med program only to drop out and go instead to Berklee College of Music.

Her debut full-length starts off menacingly with a harsh, crunchy grit, a sound that immediately sounds familiar to fans of John Vanderslice. (The album was recorded at his Tiny Telephone studios... which is a place chock full of cool analog instruments -- enough reason to get excited about this album before you even listen.) I'm a big fan of the second track, "Diamond." "Momma always said I'm a diamond/cuz I'm rough," she croons understatedly, with a great melody and a really morbid vibe.

Where it starts to turn a corner for me is on the third song, "I Was Born on a Monday." It starts with the same intro melody as Robbie Williams' "Millenium" (remember that huge hit around the harrowing times of Y2K?), without all the woos and the good feelings. It has something of a St. Vincent feel. The longing sound of Qudus' voice, the miscellaneous piano twinkling, the strange, bass-like synthesizer. And that's where she loses me. On songs like these, Qudus gets a little too weird.

Weird like the kind of music I could no longer put on a mix CD for a friend who isn't into strange music. It goes past the line of normal song structure, and into some noise. Not noise like all out noise, but it's busy. It starts to make me feel chaotic, which may be the point, but I don't like that point.

The other gem on the album is "Untitled," an edgy number with a straight-up guitar line, punctured drums, which speed up in spurts, and a nice, looming piano laced throughout.  It's simple, feels cool, and shows a focus that some of this album can't seem to hold.

One last note for musicians. Can you please stop putting hidden tracks like 15 minutes into the last song? If I'm listening in a car or somewhere where I can't easily fast-forward, I really don't like waiting for that long to listen to more music. So, just have an 11th song. It's not that big of a deal, nor does it make you special. Actually, with the last Alt-J album, it prevented me from putting my favorite song on the album on all my mixes. You're ruining good mixtapes/CD's people!

Ok rant over. Bottom line here is: check this woman out. She's got something really good going, and I only see it getting better with time.

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