Album review: Nap Eyes ‘Thought Rock Fish Scale’ a musical treasure hooked in Nova Scotia

Nova Scotian quartet Nap Eyes captures the unfettered days of youth on its sophomore album, “Thought Rock Fish Scale.”

The eight-song offering was recorded in singer and guitarist Nigel Chapman’s childhood cottage along the north shore of Nova Scotia along with friends and bandmates Josh Salter (bass), Seamus Dalton (drums) and Brad Loughead (lead guitar). The group rented some microphones and took a 4-track tape recorder and holed up for four days along the shore, recording all their waxings live to tape with no overdubs. Quick and earnest, the album is a direct product of its environment.

Nap EyesThe fact the band played each track live makes the songs all that more immediate and communal, all of them huddled together like a band of mischievous heathens building their own worlds and writing their own creeds in their self-imposed exile from the trappings of society. Chapman reveals his anxious curiosity of trying to understand the world around him on “Stargazer” as he sings, “these days when I think I’m going to do something/ wonder what I’m going to do/ got to be clean and try to control my body/ cause nobody else going to.” The batted drums and rolling guitar loop steers the rhythm with determination as it stares defiantly into the void of uncertainty. “Mixer” softly floats with Salter’s curvy bass lines and the seafoam spray of Loughead’s guitar mixed with Chapman’s flat, sing-talky voice is one of the best back-and-forths on the album.

The simple elements that make up the songs on “Thought Rock Fish Scale” belie the fantastic melodicism the group has fostered. Salter, Dalton and Loughead’s playing offer a subtly dynamic soundscape perfectly suited to support Chapman’s obtusely soothing croon. Furthermore, with zero overdubs the perfectly captures the in-the-moment chemistry of the band, most notably on the standout “Alaskan Shake.” Loughead’s mellow, psychedelic lines surf the swaying bass with ease and the way the song slowly wakes up makes you can imagine the band still trying to work through a morning hangover with strong coffee and beautiful views of crashing waves along the shore. The following “Roll It” feels like the band after the hangover has worn off and the players are dipping back into the beer cooler — a jangly and punkish romp in the vein of the Violent Femmes.

“Thought Rock Fish Scale” is such a specific snapshot in time for Nap Eyes and a sonic translation of the members’ four days spent along the Nova Scotian shores. Its honesty is something to treasure and will hopefully draw people to think of the times they lived their most honest lives, even if those days are still the horizon.

  • Nap Eyes
    “Thought Rock Fish Scale.”
    Release: Feb. 19, 2016
    Notable Tracks: “Alaskan Shake,” “Roll It,” “Stargazer”

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