I've Got My Eye On You

Every now and then, people will ask: "How do you find out about this stuff?"

They are totally baffled. Which is always funny to me because it's not like I'm a musical super sleuth or anything. I find out about bands by doing the same things I've always done: I go to shows, I read reviews, I talk to my friends, I buy records.

I am approaching my 31st birthday. It's not a big deal. I only mention it because, for me, it means I don't have the energy or patience to attend as many rock shows as I did when I was 17. I go to fewer shows, but I read more reviews. The reviews are no longer in fanzines, but primarily online. I don't have any favorite music review websites. With a few exceptions, I kind of don't even care what the reviewers have to say; I just need to know what they're listening to. I do, however, try to stay away from Pitchfork because those smart alecks tick me off. I can do without the sarcasm.

Like with hi-fi gear, the best way to find out about music is to listen. These are lucky days because the internet provides all kinds of ways to sample music for free. I am not a downloader (I'm just not into it), but I do visit the many band pages found throughout Myspace.com. If there's ever a band I'm not sure about, I do a Google search on their name. Most often, their Myspace page is the first result posted. I go there and listen.

When I discover a band I like, I tell my friends about it. Either they've already heard the band (in which case I'm all like, "Yo, dude, WTF? Why didn't you tell me?"), or they're happy to listen and offer their own opinions or related recommendations. For instance, there are many times when I'll hit up Jon Iverson with a link to a band's Myspace page, and he'll tell me, "What you need to be listening to is the Grateful Dead." Or Peter Gabriel. Or Mahavishnu Orchestra. Or some other weird stuff. (Thanks Jon!) Jon's recommendations are always enlightening (seriously!) and lead me to other great pieces of music.

When I hear something I really like, I go out and buy it. I want it. I need it. Really, it might be a sort of mental problem. Records are providing a temporary replacement for something else in my life. Love, perhaps, or self-esteem. I don't know, but as I've said before: It's a safe addiction. Music is good. It makes the world a better place. At the very least, it makes my apartment a better place.

But enough about me. Last night, under some sort of spell, I went out in search of Syclops' I've Got My Eye On You. I had to have it. I found it at the Virgin Megastore in Times Square. They had just one copy, and it would be mine. When I brought the album to the cash register, the clerk exclaimed: "This is a great album!"

He was right. The liner notes credit Hanna Sarkari (bass), Jukka Kantonen (drums), and Sven Kortehisto (keyboards and electronics), but I think that's just to put you in the mood. The music here is by Maurice Fulton, a dance producer known for meshing electronic beats with live drumming to create frenzied rhythms. I've Got My Eye On You is exciting because it plays like what Herbie Hancock might have created today, if the Headhunters were still spacing out in rocket ships. Jon Iverson might even agree. Visit the Syclops Myspace page, and you'll find references to Miles Davis, Weather Report, Charles Mingus, and Freddie Hubbard. You'll also find one sick, funky jam called "Where's Jason's K." You can listen to the entire album at RCRD LBL, but you really need to hear it on your hi-fi.

I've Got My Eye On You is a double-LP, packaged in a beautiful gatefold.

Ariel Bitran's picture

I went searching for the Syclops album the other day at Virgin in Union Square and Other Music, not present at either. I did get the Boris album though... and an Isley Brothers record...and some Hank Mobley.bye bye saved summer money.

Stephen Mejias's picture

They had one copy at Virgin in Union Square, but it was opened. When I inspected it, I found scratches and fingerprints, so they took it off the shelves. I saved you.

MikeZ's picture

To be fair, Pitchfork is not the devil here. Sure, it's snobby and elitist, but they do provide some decent recommendations from time to time. For example, I only heard about Fleet Foxes because of them.

Paul S.'s picture

I look at Pitchfork from time to time. It's an OK site. Not always an easy site to navigate though. It could be simpler and more user friendly. Pitchfork's elitist attitude doesn't bother me too much though because, after all, they are critics and I've always felt that critics should have a bit that. Thanks Stephen for introducing me to the Syclops. I'm streaming the album right now. It's going on my "to buy" list!BTW, Happy Birthday![from someone who is fast approaching his 37th b'day.]

Christian's picture

I've never been too much of a fan for Pitchfork either. I wouldn't say that I dislike it either. I have found great recommendations from NPR's All Songs Considered. I usually come away with one or two albums to add to the wish list with each episode. That's actually where I first heard of Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver, and Shearwater, and...

Fred von Lohmann's picture

For the "try-before-you-buy" experience, I use LaLa.com. They have licenses from all the majors and many indie labels. You can stream anything in their catalog once for free (really free, no ads!), or pay 10 cents per track for unlimited additional listens. It's like Rhapsody without the subscription fee. Now I jot down the stuff that I see in reviews and head over to LaLa for a listen before deciding whether to shell out for the CD. BTW, they have a decent selection of classical material, as well, for those who always wanted to compare various recordings of all the Bach cantatas (and I'm being serious, no Pitchfork sarcasm).

selfdivider's picture

I'm with Stephen on this one. We can all appreciate music to a degree. Some of us, even, may be more attuned than others in recognizing indie gems. In a way, I gotta give it up to Pitchfork, b/c they made it happen. People read their recommendations, and they make names out of no-names sometimes. But what some may call elitism (which I agree with) I call bad writing. Have you read some of the crap they write? It's like they're all these failed PhD candidates venting by writing music reviews. Terrible writing, for the most part. I hate it especially when they write these snide hip-hop reviews. I swear to God all of their writing staff won't survive 2 minutes in a bar fight, but they wield such mighty pens, eh?

the big O's picture

Thank you Mr Mejias! It sounds like Syclops is a very good band indeed. It's funny that as a Finn I had to read about a such great Finnish band from Stereophile's internet site. I didn't know such band even exist. Now I know and oh boy Im going to buy all the stuff they have made. Fantastic!

Stephen Mejias's picture

For the "try-before-you-buy" experience, I use LaLa.com.Wow, great site, Fred! Thanks so much for the tip.