TV Eyes

TV EyesAnother project from the trio that brought us the bizarre soundtrack-to-a-nonexistent-movie Logan’s Sanctuary, TV Eyes is nothing less than an ’80s revival band that’s playing brand new songs instead of new wave covers. If anything, it’s more of a stylistic tribute to the early ’80s than anything – in some of the songs, you catch a hint of Duran Duran here, a snippet of Kajagoogoo there, and so on. TV Eyes doesn’t use those bands’ songs, but it does appropriate some of their stylistic maneuvers.

The result is a delirious trip right back to the ’80s – I’d almost swear that this is just some 25-year-old album that I’ve never heard before. Standouts include the unabashed ’80s flashback that is the Falkner-penned “She’s A Study”, whose synth arpeggios bring vintage synth-heavy acts such as Level 42 and Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark immediately to mind. Falkner’s also responsible for “Mission: Submission”, a throwback to some of the style of Gary Numan, with lyrics that are pure ’80s material, predicting a world run by computers, and the least synth-oriented song on the entire album, “The Party’s Over”, a Clash-esque rocker with political overtones that are vague enough to be from any era and yet directly address the 2000s.

“Over The City” and “Need To Love” shamelessly sound more like the Duran Duran that everyone remembers than Duran Duran itself does these days. My first impression was that it was a little too “drum ‘n’ bass” modern to fit the stylistic parameters of the album, but the rapid-fire keyboard work and funky bassline seals the deal even before the startlingly LeBon-esque vocals kick in. “She Gets Around” is a dance number with a hypnotic synth loop, while “What She Said” is an ode to that oddity of the ’80s, a non-rap song with spoken lyrics.

All of it adds up to one of the most repeat-listen-worthy CDs I’ve come across in years. This stuff is just impossible to get out of your head – it’s that catchy. It’s got a knack for sounding so familiar that you’d think that you’ve been hearing these songs on countless ’80s compilations down through the years, and yet the album – and the songs – are only a couple of years old as of this writing.

4 out of 4TV Eyes’ debut album is a dandy, and it’s a testament to the sad state of musical tastemaking on this side of the world that this group could only find a label in Japan. (Two of its members, Jellyfish alumni Roger Manning and Jason Falkner, have also released music in Japan that’s unavailable here except as wallet-stranglingly expensive imports.) Someone in America, anyone: pick these guys up, pronto. They really “get” what was so good about some of the music of the 1980s.

Order this CD

  1. Fade Away (4:33)
  2. She’s A Study (4:55)
  3. Fascinating (5:20)
  4. Love To Need (4:05)
  5. The Party’s Over (4:42)
  6. What She Said (4:14)
  7. Over The City (5:00)
  8. Mission: Submission (4:30)
  9. She Gets Around (5:22)
  10. Time’s Up (4:45)

Released by: Phantom
Release date: 2006
Total running time: 48:26

Logan’s Sanctuary – Brian Reitzell & Roger J. Manning, Jr.

Logan's Sanctuary soundtrackBased on an entirely fictional sequel to the last great pre-Star Wars SF flick of the 70s, Logan’s Run, Logan’s Sanctuary is the equally imaginary musical score, composed by Roger Manning (Jellyfish) and Brian Reitzell (Air) and featuring Jason Falkner as a guest performer. Conceptually, Manning and Reitzell try to create this music as if they were in the 70s.

Musically, your enjoyment of this “soundtrack” from Logan’s Sanctuary (which, by the way, isn’t even trying to be a part of the three-book Logan’s Run cycle written by William F. Nolan) will depend on your tastes in instrumental music. Analog and Moog synthesizers are the order of the day here, all played very much in a 70s style; Falkner contributes appropriately 70s-flavored “wah-chicka” guitar licks to the instrumental track “Metropia”, and plays guitar, bass and sings on the 70s-styled power pop anthem “Search For Tomorrow”. (Unless I’ve completely forgotten what Falkner looks like, he also appears to have been the authentically-costumed “hero” in the CD booklet’s amusing plethora of freshly-shot “movie publicity stills.”) Search is easily the most modern thing on the whole CD, played very much as one of Falkner’s own solo tunes, though Falkner’s own style of writing and performing is so firmly rooted in the 70s aesthetic that this doesn’t put it at odds with the rest of the CD.

Getting back to the liner notes booklet for a moment, the “synopsis” of the movie is knee-slappingly funny (as are the photos of Jason Falkner in full Sandman uniform, dispatching white-hooded villains at futuristic-yet-vaguely-mall-like locales), almost as if we were reading about a Logan’s Run sequel…directed by Ken Russell. This actually enhances the whole experience, as the music on the CD itself isn’t music that’s aspiring to follow in the footsteps of Jerry Goldsmith. It’s music befitting a low-budget 70s cash-in flick. Which, let’s face it, is probably what any cinematic sequel would’ve been, with or without George 4 out of 4Lucas completely rewriting the SF filmmaking book.

Pretty enjoyable stuff, though it’s not going to be up everyone’s alley; fans of 70s power pop or of Jason Falkner might put this one on their list just for “Search For Tomorrow”, however. And the whole “movie that wasn’t” gag is enough to spark one’s imagination (or, at the very least, it worked for Manning and Reitzell).

Order this CD

  1. Islands In The Sky (2:39)
  2. Search For Tomorrow (5:14)
  3. The Game (4:25)
  4. Lara’s Rainbow (5:08)
  5. Metropia (5:56)
  6. Pleasure Dome 12 (4:46)
  7. Ian’s Orbit (6:00)
  8. Escape (3:27)
  9. Endless Tunnels (6:10)
  10. The Silver Garden (5:40)

Released by: Emperor Norton
Release date: 2000
Total running time: 49:25