Friday, December 7, 2007

PopeAlopes - Slowest Eye

A number of years ago, Racer X and I were perusing the bargain bins of a certain Bay Area record store in search of . . . well, something. At the time, it didn’t really matter what that something was, as long as it was cool and a bit different. I remember that I was openly mocked for one of my countless selections on that day, but here I stand some ten years later, head held high, and feeling somewhat vindicated. That selection just so happened to be Slowest Eye, the fourth release from PopeAlopes.

In the comfort of Senor X’s leather clad sports car, we sat back and listened to the opening strains of the title track with raised eye brows, and then . . . it was unceremoniously mixed into the pile of other discs from that particular trip. Somewhere along the course of my most uninteresting life, Slowest Eye found permanent residence in my music collection. And why not? Contrary to the initial (lack of) respect that we gave the album, it’s damn good! It’s uplifting in its originality. It’s moving in its somberness. Mesmerizing passages awash in feedback let the mind wander, releasing the weight of the everyday pressures of life. Great dynamics that can only be accomplished by great musicians.

PopeAlopes have a sound completely unto themselves. In fact, I’ve never had so much difficulty describing a band before. At one point, they come across as any typical college radio band, but then they’ll change it up and open the volume knobs to pummel the listener with waves of feedback. Every song has something new to offer. The aforementioned title track and it’s clean toned string bending madness. “War Dream” with it’s chanting over the distorted vocals and guitars. “Grand Anvil Chorus” has that driving-in-a-convertible-with-it’s-top-down feel, crooning vocals reminiscent of Michael Stipe, with a hint of Neil Young. “Noontide” has a beautiful acoustic guitar strumming in the background while the rest of the band rock out around it. “Yellow Paw” with it’s haunting undertones and grooving bass lines happens to be my favorite on the disc. And it goes on from there . . . shifting and changing like an electrically charged amoeba.

Categorize the band anyway you like, but you’ll ultimately come back and say, “PopeAlopes”. That’s the best description for these guys. The sad thing is, Slowest Eye was their last proper release and apparently only released in Italy (yes . . . I’m the envy of all those at The PopeAlope Fan Convention held in my mind every October 4th). However, the internet is a fabulous and ever-so powerful tool to track things down. Also, there are still three albums out there prior to this one! So, get out there . . . click on the link below and get in touch with the band. As always, you can thank me later. - Pope JTE
And for more behind the scenes info on the making of Slowest Eye check out

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