The great thing about Johnny Knoxville is his blase attitude about personal well-being. I, for one, am rather excited for “Jackass: The Movie.” After watching the show all summer, marveling at how stupid human beings can actually be, I can just imagine the, uh, inspiration an R rating gave these guys.
So how does this all tie in to a music review? I mean, it can’t be good if Knoxville is name-dropped before the band that the damn article’s about, can it? Well, no. The self-titled debut of Eyes Adrift is the rock ‘n roll equivalent of “Jackass,” the one difference being that the players aren’t expecting their audience to cringe and think, “I can’t believe they just did that.” They just honestly embarrass themselves. But to be fair, Eyes Adrift doesn’t break any new ground in the territory of really bad. They’re just, you know, conventionally bad. Layers of uninspired acoustic and electric guitars dominate 12 tracks of plodding drums and one-dimensional vocals. The countless riffs and solos aren’t without skill, but they simply aren’t very memorable.
Let’s backtrack for a minute to the early to mid-’90s. Remember that whole alternative movement and how cool it was? Flannel was the new camouflage and all the girls dressed like Avril Lavigne, but somehow it meant something. That all ended in 1994, when a shotgun found its way into the hands of a manic-depressive heroin addict.
So what do you do when three heroes from that era form a potentially-groundbreaking super group and just fall flat on their collective faces? It’s hard to believe that playing next to Kurt Cobain and Bradley Nowell wouldn’t give these band members superhuman powers. Maybe it’s all Curt Kirkwood’s fault. His last band, the Meat Puppets, started sucking immediately after Nirvana invited them onto MTV Unplugged. He’s an easy scapegoat, since he handles the guitars and most of the singing. Just go down the track list and you’ve got one crap song after another, all penned by him. “Inquiring Minds” throws a wrench into things, though. This JonBenet Ramsey ballad is all Krist Novoselic’s doing and goes something like, “The papers exhume you/ From your little grave they pull you.” I don’t know, I wasn’t really listening. I was busy pretending that I hadn’t heard him sing, that he was still just the tall, dopey guy in the “In Bloom” video.
Bud Gaugh is the only one that should come out of this affair with a clear conscience. It’s not his fault the songs are poorly-written. It’s not his fault they’re all in a boring 4/4 signature. He’s just the drummer, all rhythm and no ambition (Grohl? Who?).
Probably the most offensive track here is “Pasted,” just by virtue of its 15-minute length. Apparently, in trying to get out from under the shadow of the “Ex-(seminal band name goes here)” title, Eyes Adrift thought it would be good to try the jam band scene. That’s all there really is to say about that.
After listening to the album a few times, I’m at a loss for words. SpinART gave me a nifty little Eyes Adrift press release that should fill in the gaps. It’s pretty right on about the band: “They play rock ‘n roll. That’s really all you need to know.”
Novoselic’s chubby, bearded face is staring at me from the CD cover, begging me to be nice, for old time’s sake. So I’ll just end with one more quote: “A listen to their self-titled debut album on SpinART Records should illuminate everything else you need to learn about this band.” Thanks, SpinART.