Cover of the record discussed, a photorealistic painting of a lizard on a Formica table next to a cup of coffee.

Record of the Day:

Glass Eye - Bent By Nature (1988)

I've been listening to some Austin, TX bands1 recently, so let me start with this one I picked this up a month or 2 ago. I haven’t fully clicked with it, but I’m hanging onto it. Other than the bargain price I got it for, the reason I grabbed this is one of the members, Kathy McCarty, made an album called Dead Dog’s Eyeball that I absolutely loved in the 90s.

Chances are most of my #GenX mutuals who came up through 80s/90s indie music, or anyone who's seen the Daniel Johnston documentary, is familiar with Dead Dog's Eyeball. If not, you're in for a treat (if it's your kind of thing, granted). If any album first showed the genius of Daniel Johnston as a songwriter it's this record. McCarty & her collaborators re-contextualize the arrangements while keeping the core of the songs. As in, some bands have good songs but if you try to cover them they just sound like crappy versions of those songs. What is enduring about those songs is the way the artists perform them. But Johnston writes really timeless songs that are strong enough to be completely reinterpreted and still be terrific songs. They're like standards.2

Mastodon mutual The Orchid Show put it really well, "I think a big part of why Dan's oeuvre lends itself so well to reinterpretation is precisely because so much of the versions he released feel like fully-realized demos, or otherwise implacably in-between states, which is also probably a decent description for a lot of where he was at internally throughout most of his creative life as well."

This Glass Eye record is fairly different, but also you can tell its the same creative minds behind it. This is post-punk influenced. A couple of people over on Mastodon tell me they were a great live band, and I believe it. Nothing I interests me more in an artist than meeting someone who knows them, or has seen them live, or is super familiar with the records. I think someone else's biases is a fine lenses through which to view music. Since some of my favorite records were "pretty good" when I first heard them, and the pedigree of the people involved, I'm glad I grabbed this, and will definitely keep listening to it.

Dead Dog's Eyeball by Kathy McCarty

Dead Dog's Eyeball by Kathy McCarty


1 On this, more later. But I had just posted a RofD posts on Big Boys & Poi Dog Pondering.

2 Daniel's records themselves I can only take in small doses. I'm only familiar with the early ones, which is what McCarty is drawing on for this record. And I enjoy the lo-fi aesthetic (natch) but it's not exactly background music--it demands your attention. I had a partner who was very much a fan, so I heard the records a fair degree just because she liked what she liked and played it over and over (most of it was good so I'm not really complaining--shout out to The Gits). And we did see him in concert at Lupo's in Providence, RI and it was a terrific concert. His backing band was good, Dan seemed to be having a great time and was really engaged, and he played a bunch of the "hits". And hearing him perform these songs both solo and with the band really drove home how talented a song-writer he is.