Hi IHN! Michael Mehalick of Good Eye Records transmitting in here to share a list of highlights from us in 2019. This past year was invigorating for several reasons and I would like to take this opportunity up top to say thank you to anybody who bought a record, streamed a song and/or everything in-between from one of the artists we work with. As you may figure, running an independent label in this day and age is a continuously evolving challenge, but it’s the support of people like you reading this and entities like I Heart Noise that make it possible.
Good Eye Records was started some time ago, but officially kicked up in the fall of 2016. Since then, we’ve released music across the guitar-driven spectrum with artists/bands based throughout the US. With a lot of the initial necessities of getting a label going more or less sorted now, we’re really looking forward to collaborating more in creating compelling visual pieces to further highlight our artist’s narratives.
Below I’ll highlight a track off of one of Good Eye’s releases from 2019 and offer a little insight on it and/or what it means to me. The future is bright and the inbox is open ~ firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy 2020 everybody!
Funny enough, 2020 will start in the same way we kicked off 2019 with a new release from Cathedral Bells. One of the unique pleasures of running a label and being based out of Brooklyn is getting to know our artists as friends and occasionally having them stay with myself and my wonderful fiance Sarah (who makes a lot of the videos you’ll see on our social media).
When I first met Matt and his now wife/collaborator Amber in person it was at one of those Gene Simmons rock and brews places outside of Orlando, FL. We had had some initial successes with the first two singles, “Cemetery Surf” and “A Passing Phase,” and wanted to talk about the future. Initially, Matt had hoped to release what eventually became a self-titled EP on vinyl, but ultimately we decided to save that as a Side B for an eventual LP, the forthcoming Velvet Spirit
Flash forward to last July and Matt and Amber were up with Sarah and I where the initial seeds of the newer material on Velvet Spirit began to blossom in the live arena as Cathedral Bells celebrated their first NYC mini-tour amidst a disgusting heat wave that even threw the Florida natives for a bit of a loop (Matt still wore jeans the whole time).
Amidst all the craziness, we did manage to sit down for a home cooked meal, Sarah handled the veggies and I was on the grill. So now whenever I hear “Time Capsule,” I look at the title sort of literally and I can immediately visualize that humid evening in a low lighting, stealing a moment for a nice meal before turning around in short order for a gig at Pet Rescue.
Although I guess by now there is a sort of overarching, guitar-driven aesthetic you could ascribe to Good Eye, it’s always a goal to shake up our output at least from release to release. The beauty of No Moniker’s Private Prophet EP is that more or less pulled the same maneuver, however consciously, from their previous release.
Shaped in part following the loss of a friend, the band’s Jordan Scott processes the sort of randomness of it all through his brilliant lyricism and nods to moody rock masters. “Kicking and Screaming,” at least to me, is the elegiac anchor at the heart of the EP that oscillates between hopeful and helpless in a way that is really striking and relatable in a social media age.
2020 was the year that I got engaged, and Quiet Kids’ self-titled EP came into my life right around the time that I had decided to start planning it. You could truly lose yourself in the wonderful was of sounds that Quiet Kids conjures across these six tracks, but “My Moon” is certainly one of the best love songs you maybe missed last year.
I think the mark of any great song designed for you to play for a lover is that it can do all the talking for you by just hitting play. “Look in my eyes, got me feeling like I’m weightless,” Andy Pena ethereally croons from the outset. It’s hook, line, sinker past that point, friends, as Quiet Kids whisk you away with the rest.
We’re planning on Nick Cave’s “Into My Arms” for our first dance song, but I’ll certainly find an opportunity to get “My Moon” into the nuptials at some point.
I’ve known Looms and their frontperson Sharif Mekawy for about 5 years now, and I even had a hand in helping them arrive at their current moniker (R.I.P. Sharif Mekawy Band). Sharif also plays in fellow Good Eye group Darkwing, so naturally we came to talk Looms’ latest release, The Way Up.
Through a series of barroom conversations, I really got to the heart of The Way Up and just how personal it was for Sharif. I’ll leave it to him to go further, but I think every artist has a work that “saves” them on some level, and it was immediately apparent that this was that for Sharif.
As evidenced by the amount of other groups Sharif is formally or informally a part of, he’s a utility belt type of musician and collaborator. So when the spotlight is shone on his own, most personal works, you can really hear the pathos.
You can visit The Way Up and share that experience with Sharif, but I’m highlighting “Once Known” as a personal favorite. It works in a Wilco-style examination of uncertainty while keeping a top-tapping-ness at its core.
This song, and Makeunder in particular, will always hold a special place in my heart. I’m pretty sure I heard a demo of it as far back as the beginning of 2016, so I got to hear each little tweak along the way. From the outset, it was clear that this track was going to be a behemoth and unlike anything that we would release or any “independent” artist would in 2019.
“In Between My Dead-End Jobs” is more or less about what its title suggests, but I guarantee it’ll knock you on your ass as soon as you press play. Did I mention that this was all written by one person; Hamilton Ulmer? There’s really nothing better I could say at this juncture than listen to the song and all of its LP, Pale Cicada, now.
Just like Cathedral Bells, I had the good fortune of getting to know Carriers’ Curt Kiser in 2019 both in visiting Cincinnati for their record release show and having them stay with us in Brooklyn. I definitely get wrapped up in the sweeping, War on Drugs-grandeur of tracks like “Make It Right” and “Another Guy,” but I’m going to talk about the mediation that is “Heaven’s People.”
Curt, if you look at photos of him, wears the same hat commemorating a particularly bad blizzard all the time. That hat was his grandfather’s who as you’ll hear in “Heaven’s People” passed away peacefully somewhere in Wyoming. Throughout the track, Curt walks you through his evening as he strums his guitar and thinks about his grandfather and how he hopes to see him again someday. A concept all of us have mused, but Curt constructs it all so wonderfully as to feel like a spiritual balm.
One time, I was getting a haircut and an indie-country sort of song came on that I think might be popular and maybe I’m showing my ass on this one, but stick with me. Essentially, the artist was singing about a partner and how even though they were in love, that they more or less had thirty good years and that’s it. That really fucked me up because I fixate on stuff like that all the time and was getting engaged at 30 years old. So to hear it so starkly sung put my butt in a bar stool immediately after the haircut.
Any ways, that’s all to say that when “Heaven’s People” entered my life it served as the antithesis of how I was feeling in that barber’s chair. I am not religious or particularly spiritual, but whenever I hear “Heaven’s People” or see Curt in his hat, it helps me settle a bit and keep on moving.
Aside from re-releasing Makeunder’s Great Headless Blank EP, Russian Baths’ Deepfake marked the first time that Good Eye had worked on a second release with a band. I think I’ve told my napkin story as it relates to Russian Baths ad-nauseum on various podcasts (shout-out Look At My Records, The Subliminal Inevitable Show and Street Wannabes), but getting to work with Luke and Jess and see their vision of how the band should evolve aesthetically has been a real mark of pride for me.
When it was first finalized that we would be working together on the Penance EP, I would walk around Bushwick in various forms of grey winter brutality and just lose myself in “Poolhouse” at tinnitus-inducing levels. This go-around, seasons reversed, it was “Wrong” that grabbed me by the collar with its gripping build to a towering explosion. There’s just something about the steely-eyed way Luke sings “I was wrong” atop that sizzling TNT fuse that makes that thunderous chorus hit you even further into your chest.