Thursday, October 30, 2008

Friday, October 24, 2008

Pure Film

A lovely piece by Jeff Love.

Coming soon on the blog: an in-depth article on TFS technicians Nick Krill and Burleigh Seaver, lots more demos and recordings, pictures of my speedboat, a centipede race in Athens, Greece, and much much more!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Richard's Music Criticism Corner

As you all know, every Thursday our friend Richard checks in with his roundup of the latest music releases in the pop, rock, country, r&b, swing, oldies, latin, quaker, and country categories (and also jazz), giving readers his thoughts on new music and how it makes him feel and what it says about our times today in the world. It just goes to show: National Eye isn't just about making music, we are about listening to it and saying things about it. And so, here are this week's picks!


This album has the perfect name because not only will you not be stressed when you listen to it but you'll get there super-fast with no stops because the music is Just That Good. Some of the instruments played on it are drums, keyboards, and singing. I don't know how to describe the music because it's all in French, but buy it anyway and enjoy! Rating: 10 smiles

TODD by Rattlin' Razors

This new album by Newport, VA's favorite sons Rattling Razors is called Todd and I think you know why: all the songs are about famed comedian Todd Lazenby. If what your ears like is fast beats and honking horns and clever lyrics, then this is the album for you. On side one there is one long song called "TODD" and side 2 is totally blank until you get to 28:31 and there's a bunch of people laughing. Joke's on you! Rating: 4 punches

Finally, here it is: the album you've been waiting for from Boston quintet My Fair Lady. No one does it quite like them and here they do it and do it and do it until your head hurts from trying to keep track of how great it all is. The best song is probably "Need More Of You In My Life" because it has the best lyrics but that would be selling short other great songs like "XYZ (The Zipper Song)" and "Let's Go Screw (in a Light Bulb!)" That last song sounds dirty and you'll think it is until you realize they're talking about light bulbs. Rating: 90
THE LIVING MUSIC by Michael Jones

Attention irony fans: this record by producer-turned-singer-turned-actor-turned-tugboat captain-turned-singer Michael Jones features NO PIANO, despite the piano you can see quite well with your own eyes right there on the cover. But this album could be called "Living Room" just as easily as "Living Music" because your living room is the perfect place to put it on and LISTEN. Rating: hhhh

This reissue of Yes's classic rock opera comes with an 18"X42" poster (featuring all the members + Kate Jackson), a booklet with liner notes by Pat Nixon and Charles Schulz, and all the songs sequenced in alphabetical order. New re-mastering has the bass sounding crisper than ever and we can all agree it will be nice to finally have something to listen to in the car. Rating: 14/32

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Don't Wait for the Box Set!!: Part Two In Our Unearthing of Crummier-Sounding Versions of Songs From The Farthest Shore (Doot-Doot-Doo Edition)

Now that the album has been available for a full week, it makes (marginally) more sense to throw some more crummy demo versions at you. That way, you can sit down and carefully notice all the interesting musical things that can happen between Conception and Reality (i.e. demo version vs. final album track). It's a mystical journey every time, I assure you.

We've already offered up the demo for Effortless Plane, which was pretty darn different from the album version -- a fact not lost on our readers. Here's what some of you had to say:

"This is a much slower version of this song than the one on the album. Is there something wrong with my VCR?"
Linda Winston, Des Plaines, IL

"where r the drums?!?"
Edmund Softel, Battersea, London

"I have to agree with bombdroppa99: mit Sicherheit eine (längst bekannte und zugängliche) Bereicherung für ihre Studien, als Projekt ohne echte Angabe von Gründen oder Nutzen und als bloße Quelle für sinnlose Verlinkungen: eine."
Andy Conroy, Nebo, KY

"Hey Caruso, ever heard of singing lessons? Just kidding! Call me."
Admiral Cornelis Cruys, Taganrog

Good points, all. But let's move on already!

Our next primordial offering is the song Several Beaches, presented here without the benefit of Gianmarco's drums, Will's bass, Josh Newman's guitar, Doug's backups, Charlie Hall's electric piano, or decent lead vocals. Nevertheless, fans of accidental tube distortion and mid-song coughing will not be disappointed!

In other words: COMPLETISTS ONLY!

[Also included above: another great page from Jeff Love's Farthest Shore. This one looks beach-related so it feels appropriate.]

Monday, October 20, 2008


A trailer of sorts I threw together for the album.

National Eye's Extracurricular Activities: The Lohse Session 10/18

It's never a dull moment for us over at National Eye Studios International, which is the place where we record all our music and also eat breakfast and read romance novels.

For instance, just this past weekend we had a rollicking recording session for a Gretchen Lohse song called "Ursa Ultra," one of many wonderful numbers our intrepid violinist has cooked up.

For this tune, a whole bunch of people gathered together including NE's Will and Rick (banjo & guitar respectively), NE/Cap Yrs drummer Kyle Lloyd (drums, respectfully), Lisa McHenry-Bendel from Caves of Mercury (bass, expectantly), and Dave Hartley and Adam Granduciel from War on Drugs (phantom guitar and piano, repentantly).

Below are some fun pictures that got taken by Lisa & GL. We'll be recording lots more of Gretchen, National Eye, and whoever else feels like stopping by, so expect more images of microphones and blurry people-shapes in the weeks and months to come.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Absolute Carnage at the American Swedish Historical Museum

4:42pm: Gretchen and I arrive exactly 42 minutes late to the competition, which is already in full, aggressive swing. Ameri-swedes usher us into the museum with helpful smiles, but we are already receiving mucho venomous glares and vibes from the other competing bands. Crackers, cheese, and lingenberry (sp?) juice is served on tables.

4:55: We peruse the Lego exhibit for "inspiration" on the advice of one of the Museum staff. Nathan Sawaya's sculptures in Lego are actually cool as all get-out, but this is a serious contest and we must hurry back to the table. Pictured below is one of his pieces.

5:01: There's nothing like looking at a crate full of Lego to drive a stake through your heart when you know you have less than three hours to make something out of it that's impressive enough to defeat the likes of The Sw!ms, The Brakes, and the Spinto Band, all of whom outnumber us and have a time-lead of a good half hour. We are determined to vanquish, however, and so we begin.

5:30: Things're looking grim. Some cheating heel has removed all of the army-fatigue-green pieces from our supply, nixing my idea for a bust of Fidel Castro. I have overconfidently left my "Hornik's Ultimate Lego Guide" at home, and we need ideas FAST. Gianmarco and Will are still AWOL.

5:39: Gretchen has hit upon the inspired idea of a dramatic 3-D depiction of The Voyage of the Vessel Vetrovka, based on Royko Fleming's famous epic poem. It's incredibly ambitious, but we didn't come here to play with toys. We came to win.

5:57: I run over on a recon mission to see what the Brakes and the Spintos have cooking. They are looking impressive, so I "accidentally" cut the power on their side of the building. For 12 minutes, they are literally building blind.

6:13: Brian from the Sw!ms suggests the lingenberry juice. Luckily, both Gretchen and I are on a strict no-juice cleansing regimen and decline his offer. It is later revealed the pitchers were spiked with dihydromorphinone hydrochloride. Several Spintos and one small child are now passed out in a wooden boat in the Viking exhibit.

6:55: Giamarco arrives. We put him directly to work on the optical illusion portion of the sculpture. He succeeds brilliantly: it looks exactly like what we wanted it to look like.

7:20: Judgment time draws near. Jon Eaton of the Spinto Band recommends a colonial era painting on display on the second floor, but is immediately escorted out of the building. My hull has just completely crumbled before my very eyes due to a poorly-constructed lego foundation. There apparently is video of me weeping over a plate of meatballs.

7:32: The Sw!ms have created a smorgasbord (Swedish!) of weird objects including a sword stabbing a burger and an elephant in a wheelchair. And an airplane, which is hard to do with legos unless you have directions. Spinto have created a gruesome and gory scene, with some kind of Revelation-style beast laying waste to a whole village of infidels. I always knew those guys were fanatics. Meanwhile, The Brakes have created a highly elaborate and fully-operational attack ship out of some deranged sci-fi nerd's worst nightmares. We have nearly fulfilled the promise of Gretchen's vision, but it takes Will's eleventh-hour arrival to complete the piece with touches of grace and beauty. Judges are already looming, taking pictures, jotting notes, being extremely pleasant. I have sweated through my fourth shirt.

8:00: The Awards Ceremony. Moment of truth. And the truth is... Everybody wins! The Sw!ms especially win but also everybody wins. I feel relief that the conclusion wasn't too vicious but then again this was always about getting people to visit the really great exhibit at the Swedish Historical Museum, not glory.

All in all, a lovely evening. I couldn't recommend the museum more, it's really nice and located in that lovely park down by all the stadiums on Pattison Ave. So don't go there during a game, but do go there.

Oh the things we do for music!

Gianmarco Cilli: A Man In Full

In 2007, America voted Gianmarco Cilli "Tallest Member of National Eye." But that was before he was the first member of the group to spin off his own solo album which is called Homely Joys and is a lovely piece of musicalism that spins and falls down your ears like a leafy breeze.

So you should buy that, but don't take my word for it, take your own eyes' and ears' words for it when you go see him tonight at Johnny Brenda's Tavern play with his amazing band of supergroupers -- and I don't mean fish, I mean great musicians.

Also playing are San Francisco's Citay and somewhere else's East Hundred.
Also, coming later today: a play-by-play of last night's cut-throat Lego Building Competition at the American Swedish Historical Museum. See directly below for a sneak peek at what we made and stay tuned for the whole, bloody story.

"Ocean Fantasy"

Thursday, October 16, 2008

"The Farthest Shore" Listening Competition

So far I, From a Fountain, have listened to "The Farthest Shore" on my:

1. Stereo: from iPod.
2. Car Stereo: from iPod.
3. Tiny Computer Speaker #1: from iTunes.
4. Tiny iPhone Speaker: from iPhone.
5. Tiny Computer Speaker #2: from the Internet. 
6. Studio Monitor Speakers AS I WAS RECORDING ON THE ALBUM!!!!: from component .wav files.

So I win this competition.  SO FAR.  

Through which medium and via what technology (please follow inspiring format as above) have YOU listened to TFS?  GO!

Tonight: Weirdest Event Ever (LEGO BATTLE)

When you have a new album out you get asked to do a lot of really crazy things. The Church of England, for instance, sent National Eye an email wondering if we'd be interested in walking across the Gobi Desert for a cross-promotional thing to hype their new line of digital sunglasses and we had to say "Sorry can't" no matter how much we might love the COE because of scheduling issues.

Meanwhile, The Children's Television Workshop refuses to commit to this great idea we had about an island amusement park featuring furry creatures and loud guitar music. (Apparently the folks at CTW hate the notion of making millions of dollars.)

So when a promotional opportunity comes along and all the pieces fall into place it's a Very Special Thing and that V.S.T. is called "synergy" -- a word that combines the Greek root "syn" which means "together" and the Latin-American "ergy" which means "good timing."

Which brings us to tonight's synergical event where members of National Eye compete in a no-holds-barred competition against The Spinto Band, the Sw!ms, and The Brakes for Lego-Building Supremacy.

I'm just kidding. Wait, no I'm not! We really are doing a Lego-off with a bunch of other bands! Tonight at the American Swedish Historical Museum in South Philadelphia!

The Spintos are of course also in the midst of a whirlwind promo binge in support of their great new album Moonwink. You'll hear music by all these bands tonight at this crazy event but not played live because we'll all be too busy making our insane Lego stuff.

And don't tell the other bands, but I've already drawn up plans for what we're gonna build and between you and me and the moon, WE ARE GOING TO WIN.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Unrelated To Our New Album Department Presents: A Really Great Live Song By National Eye!

Sometimes even this blog needs a break from the outrageous media blitz explosion that has accompanied our humble release of a little album we made called The Farthest Shore which you can download right now from any number of safe, secure digital music vendors.

But yeah, so I thought I'd change things up a little bit with this nifty recording from a while back where we played in Atlanta, Georgia (birthplace of Candice Bergen) at a place called The Earl (birthplace of Earl Palmer, drumming brother of Carl). I think this was on tour for The Meter Glows, if you can believe that! Or maybe it was just for fun.

At any rate, fun is what we had, as you can tell by this F-U-N rendition of the song "Between Sleep and Sleep" which was written by Jeff Love and would often feature him throwing his guitar down and doing "moves" in front of the stage to the delight of our Southern fans.

So here it is. Don't forget to enjoy the heck out of it!

photo courtesy of Freshout Media and Horse Fancy Magazine

The Farthest Shore on iTunes

Click here to buy The Farthest Shore on iTunes.

National Eye - The Farthest Shore

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Nearest Shore

I have decided to celebrate this most holiest of high holidays, FARTHEST SHORE DAY, with a trip to the beachiest of most beaches, Hermosa Beach in Los Angeles (CA)!

I have decided to take this trip to the beach last Thursday, and do much bodysurfing in anticipation for today's Farthest Shore release day extra-specialness!

Please deliver this note to my girlfriend of most girlfriends if I should (have) perish(ed) in the roiling seas!

It's Finally Here: TFS In Stores Now (and by "Stores" I Don't Mean the Actual Kind I Mean the Futuristic Kind That Are On Your Computer)

I called up the government today to see if I could register October 14th as NATIONAL EYE AWARENESS DAY what with our album The Farthest Shore coming out today and all. They said "No, we already have one of those and it's about eyesight not music." So then I asked about NATIONAL NATIONAL EYE AWARENESS DAY because that way it's making the thing go all across the country but also it's about our great group. And they said, "No, that just sounds stupid." There followed a long silence. Then they said, "How about NATIONAL SCISSOR SAFETY DAY? That's available." And at that point I hung up.

Anyway, holy ship the album came out! Go buy it!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Is It Tomorrow Already?

Just thought I'd let the kids know that you can pick up the unabridged audio book version of Ursula K. LeGuin's adaptation of National Eye's album "The Farthest Shore" from iTunes, which is also where you can pick up National Eye's album "The Farthest Shore" starting tomorrow.

Mortifying Moments in Mainstream Media Malfeasance

Remember a long, long time ago when there was that Philadelphia Weekly thing that featured these words?
Next best album: National Eye, The Farthest Shore.
National Eye’s second album, 2006’s Roomful of Lions, featured lots of friends familiar from local outfits. The upcoming The Farthest Shore repeats the feat with guest spots by members of Dr. Dog, Buried Beds, the Capitol Years, Like Moving Insects and Mitch Fiction, not to mention a string trio. While the old National Eye
regularly swapped instruments and singers, the band’s now anchored by the songs
of co-founder Rick Flom, and goes more for baroque folk grandeur than
bedroom-recorded psych. Flom describes The Farthest Shore as “a storybook album … our version of Harry Nilsson’s The Point, but probably not for kids since it’s kinda dark and scary.” Between the Bowie-esque preview track “Pure Film” and National Eye’s recent song-by-song rendition of the album at Johnny Brenda’s,
hopes are awfully high for this record, and deservedly so.

Yeah, those were optimistic times. But so are these because the Philadelphia Weekly is still churning out an issue AT LEAST once a week on actual paper with actual crossword puzzles that you can actually do with actual pens while actually waiting to see the dentist. And National Eye is actually putting out that NEXT BEST ALBUM tomorrow so we don't make PW look like a bunch of liars.

I post it here now because I'd like everyone to look at the crazy picture featuring the bizarre-est yet version of National Eye:

Here you have (from left to less left) Rick Flom, Todd Starlin, Gretchen Lohse, Charlie Hall, and Will Baggott. A part of me wishes this lineup had gone on tour, wearing these clothes, playing only instrumentals and only in school gymnasiums.
In reality, this just happens to be the group that could convene at short notice to have our picture taken in a gritty, urban environment. They have all played with NE, of course, but some key players were regrettably absent.
Doug, for instance, was playing tennis with Jerry Falwell (he was still alive then). Anyway my real point is: BUY THE ALBUM TOMORROW YOU GUYS!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Great NE Vault Exhumation Part One: Effortless Plane

Here is a demo of a song that is VERY different from the way it ended up sounding on the album, which you'll find out when you buy it on October 14th or if you've already heard it over at my house or possibly if you've heard us do it in a "live" setting.

For instance, this version has no drums on it or trumpet or violins or electric guitars or even bass guitar and it also sort of sounds like crap. But a good sort of crap and if there's one thing I've learned in my 56 years in the entertainment industry it's this: people love demos of songs they've never heard before.

So without further ado I submit to you the "Simon and Garfunkel" version of Effortless Plane.

I failed in math and science so please let us know if this doesn't work or works but in a way that is stupid.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Getting to Know Us: The Farthest Shore Players!

You can't just make music out of sunbeams and leftover soup. You need ideas and you need "instruments" and you need know-how and you need hustle. And you need people.

Because without people not only would music not be listened to, it wouldn't be played. And what is music when it's not played? I'll tell you what it is: it's not much.

So over the years the people in National Eye have called up other people and said, "There's this music sitting here not being played so would you please come over to the house and play it and if you do I will give you some pizza and beer and possibly wine if you're picky."

And they did, a lot of the time. So here today we're going to give you the rundown on all the people who helped in making our new album The Farthest Shore the thing it is. Which is: a really great album for you to enjoy.

So let's meet the musickers!

Will Baggott: A millionaire in his own mind, he played bass and guitar and shook things and engineered and all kinds of other things.

Gianmarco Cilli: Go see him play with his band at Johnny Brenda's on Oct 17th and when you do go up to him and say "The blog told me to tell you that you're super and you did a great job playing bass, guitar, singing, and drumming on your album The Farthest Shore, available from Park the Van Records on October 14th which was just a few days ago because we're talking in the future right now." If he doesn't believe you, buy him a scotch.

Richard Flom: Him is me. We played ball together in college, but I forget which ball. Sung, strummed, etc.

Douglas Kirby: Oh the keyboards he played! Oh the singing he did! Oh the guitars we'll go! His favorite old time saying is, "An indictment is not a conviction."

Jeff Love: Sang and played some guitar and also did the cover art and lots of the art you see on this blog and some of the blogging you also see on this blog. Speaking of seeing, this guy looks great in a tuxedo!

Gretchen Lohse: She did violins and violas and viocals and broke down barriers by being the first Gretchen ever on a National Eye album. Some call her "The Phantom" due to her impeccable manners.

Sir Kyle Lloyd: When not playing drums on this album and in the fabulous Capitol Years, Kyle Lloyd enjoys bicycling, acrostics, and being surveilled by the FBI!

Shai Son of Eli: As they say, "Time flies when you're having fun." And "flies" is the word I would use to describe my friend Shai, who's also in the aforementioned Caps and played guitar on TFS. Oops, I meant "fun."

Charlie Hall: Did drums and the electric wurlipianitzer. Also Head Coach of the Philadelphia Silver Ages, winners of the 2007 Sadly Cup.

Thomas Bendel: Drummed on TFS because he's a drummer but he's many other things as well, such as a great human being and the very model of a modern Major-General.

Todd Starlin: Blew trumpet and vocals. You'll remember Mr. Starlin from his appearances on Who Wants to Marry The Queen of England? and Top Waiter. Just kidding he's never been on TV.

Joshua Newman: Every good boy deserves Josh! Which might just be my opinion but 10,000 guitars agree! Particularly the one that he played so well on our album. He also sang on a song.

Rory Connell: Along with Flom and Newman, Connell plays in western swing combo Mitch Fiction and the Shirts [sic] and starred in the legendary rock group Raccoon. Sometimes he gets that starry look in his eyes.

Nathan Lohse: Played the cello which if you don't know what that is you're in luck because I'm about to tell you: it's a long tube with smaller rubber tubes coming out of it and the whole thing resolves into a skull at the bottom where a tiny whale lives and shoots water out of a window which makes a sound like this: "Bzzzzzzzz." It's almost impossible to tune, but sounds great when Nathan plays it because he's a pro.

Zach Miller: This guy has been known to play keys in Dr. Dog but he's also great at playing gypsy-style guitar even though you'd never guess it because he doesn't look like a gypsy, he looks like a heckuva person, which is exactly what he is.

Janka Perniss: A rabid sports fan, Ms Perniss also loves movies. She went to see 15 of 'em last week and that's not including the ones she watched at home. She played a lovely violin on the album and teaches karate to the homeless.

Adam Arcuragi: A is for A. D is for damn. A is for alright. M is for man. A is for and. R is for really. C is for croons. U is for unlike. R is for Rod. A is for Argent's. G is for giant. I is for iguana.

That's all of them, I think. If you played on The Farthest Shore and were not mentioned here please write a nasty letter to:

Rhino Records
4567 Easter Dr. Suite #5
Eau Claire, WI 52554

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


I've always been amazed at Rick's seemingly effortless ability to do things like write songs or movies or stories or drink or draw crazy things like this.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Back When Doug Wore Capris

Actually this post isn't about Doug - it's about the magic of Gianmarco and crotches. Somehow those two disparate things always combine to make a NE press photo. Check out Will's hand in the first photo, and if that second photo were a video, you'd see why I'm making such an odd face...

P.S. My scanner is totally broke, so while this post doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the upcoming TFS release (10/14/08!!!), it does provide an excuse for me to post two more photos of myself on the internet.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Exclamation Points!!!

Jeff loves posting pictures of himself but what's even better is posting pictures made by himself such as this one I'm posting now. It is at the moment the leading contender in the MAKE A MASK THAT LOOKS JUST LIKE THAT CAT CONTEST but don't worry he's been disqualified for drug use (chamomile) and nepotism and other crimes against humidity. So you don't have to make one as good as this one just make one that expresses your true feelings and addresses many of the issues of our day.

Speaking of our day, I read in the news this morning that people in Green Bay which is really close to where I used to live are deciding NOT to vote for the jerk, so let's give them all a round of applause.

Which brings us to the subject of applause. Which is what you'll hear if you get The Farthest Shore next week when it comes out because you'll be the one applauding the great job National Eye did on the music on the album. But don't clap too loud because clapping can lead to blisters and blisters can lead to embarrassing handshakes and those can lead to death. Just ask Jeff Love!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Friday, October 3, 2008