Any English majors in the house? If so, you're sure to recognize the title of mystic poet William Blake's greatest-hits collection. For all the rest of us, there's Eisley.
A quintet of four siblings plus a family friend, Eisley has nurtured their own unique songs of innocence and experience across a shared lifetime, with a creativity, charisma, and camaraderie that is both rare and revealing. Add to that the sheer exultant joy of music making and you still won't quite have tapped the unique appeal of this remarkable young band.
But for all the lavish praise that has greeted Eisley since they first emerged from the Texas music scene, the proof is in the music of Room Noises, their debut Reprise Records release. It proves the point and then some. Eleven Eisley originals adorn an album that delivers on all the promise of this young band, even as it points the way toward an improbably bright future.
Recorded in various locales over the past two years, in and around a packed touring schedule, Room Noises boasts an all-star roster of production talent ranging from Rob Schnapf of Beck and Elliot Smith renown, to Michelle Branch and Sheryl Crow collaborator John Shanks to Green Day production wizard Rob Cavallo. Acclaimed young recording artist Aaron Sprinkle joined forces with Eisley on the production of their signature tune "Marvelous Things," while the band themselves produced two key tracks.
Highlighting new renditions of such entrancing Eisley favorites as "I Wasn't Prepared," "Telescope Eyes," and "Memories" -- all originally heard on the group's twin 2003 EP's Laughing City and Marvelous Things -- Room Noises also features a batch of beguiling new tracks, including "Just Like We Do," "Plenty Of Paper," "Trolly Wood," "Lost At Sea," "Brightly Wound," "Golly Sandra," "My Lovely," and "One Day I Slowly Floated Away." Together they comprise one of the most impressive, entertaining, and instantly accessible debuts in recent musical memory.
But Room Noises is hardly a bolt from the blue. Eisley, and the music they make, is, rather, the result of a lifetime of collective creative effort that began in a symbiotic family setting. The decidedly unconventional parenting skills of Boyd and Kim DuPree produced a tight-knit brood of siblings with a near telepathic musical connection, nurtured by life in the small Texas town of Tyler, with few friends, no cable TV, and a lot of big sky to bounce around under.
It was there that sisters Chauntelle and Sherri, at the ages of 15 and 13 respectively, holed up in their room practicing guitar and singing harmony when eight year-old Stacy intruded, stubbornly insisting on her place in the fledgling band. When turned away by her understandably skeptical sisters, Stacy began writing songs with all the determination that three chords and a raging case of sibling rivalry can muster. Proudly presenting her results, she was immediately recruited into the sister act.
The question of where an eight-year-old and her sisters might actually perform their quixotic family act was answered when their parents opened a coffeehouse in a local strip mall to showcase up-and-coming Tyler talent, including, of course, the homegrown variety. By this time brother Weston, two years older than Stacy, had been recruited to play drums and the quartet got busy gathering a small but fanatically loyal following, performing in the all-ages clubs, church basements, and school auditoriums of East Texas.
From that point the Eisley saga kicked into the high gear. With the addition of bassist and family friend Jonathan Wilson, their playing radius expanded to Dallas's happening Deep Ellum District and, from there, spots on various musical festival bills throughout the region. A homespun demo quickly followed and promptly found its way around the country, landing the group a series of record company showcases in New York and Los Angeles. Interest was immediate and intense with Reprise eventually trumping the competition with a guarantee of complete creative freedom.
At the same time, word of mouth had reached the ears of no less than Coldplay, who recruited Eisley as an opening act on their 2003 US tour. The quintet would go on to release the abovementioned warm-up EPs even while they appeared at such prestigious venues as the Coachella Music Festival and Britain's V2003 Festival. Small wonder Blender magazine crowned them "The Next Big Thing" while Entertainment Weekly dubbed them "Band On The Brink."
"We really had no clue," confesses Chauntelle, who, at 22 is the band's oldest member and unofficial spokes-person. "The whole idea was for us to try and express what was happening in our little world, to describe it to ourselves. We know each other so well and have shared our lives together, and our music really comes from that common bond. It still surprises us sometimes that people pick up on what we're doing…that they can relate.
It's that extraordinary connection that infuses the music of Room Noises, delving deeply into a reservoir of rich imagery and fashioning elegant hooks from compelling musical elements. In the process, Eisley captures the essence of memory and longing, laughter, and dreams in songs with lovely, lingering echoes. A natural, spontaneous, and eloquent expression of innocence and experience, the music of Eisley runs deep in the blood.