Atlanta, Georgia is the natural habitat for the four members of the group 'Fisheye'. Singer-guitarist Brian Mobley, guitarist and mandolin player Jason Roberts, bassist Andy Robinson and drummer Doug Ward came together about four years ago after they each already have a long career in other groups behind them.
This band is characterized by the fact that they try to perform as often as possible and end up at many festivals, clubs and at parties. Except for Doug Ward, they all write songs that contribute to the repertoire of 'Fisheye'.
Their latest album "Stacked" is the quartet’s their third studio album after the CD's "Bigger Than Your Head" from 2008 and "A Totally Different Disaster" from 2009. To produce this album "Fisheye" spent several weeks in a professional recording studio which turned out to be a very good move for the quality of their own production.
The series of uncomplicated songs with catchy melodies are very easy on the ears; we believe that "Fisheye" with "Stacked" produced their best album to date. With the song "Barely Even There", the lovely "Kindly Make Your Way", "Bad Day To Die" and "What's The Point" Brian Mobley is responsible for four top songs on this CD.
But the strength of this group lies in the fact that the songs by Jason Roberts (three pieces) and Andy Robinson (four pieces) are not inferior in quality to Mobley's songs. Our selection of these songs are: "The Bridge", "You Could Cry" and the closing song "Teach Me".
This creates a very diverse record that at no time will bore the listener and each of the eleven songs are very pleasing to the eustachian tube. In short, "Stacked" is a great record from what seems a very sympathetic band of four.
When I ask Andy Robinson, guitarist of the American formation Fisheye, the significance of the album title (Stacked) and the choice of cover photo, he states: "I was inspired by the process after recording days in the studio. All songs are recorded in multi-tracks and built layer by layer resulting in the actual number." Mastering can make or break an album and should be treated with extreme precision and care. According to Andy, the reviewer of the Belgian website Rootstime captured it well. Lewis thought the last album Fisheye "A Totally Different Disaster" sounded rather shallow. The four men of Fisheye were not satisfied with the final product either. It was decided to mastering the new album "Stacked" in a different studio.
I have a passion for an album that is self-recorded and released. The time and energy it takes to produce music to your own taste and opinion without the influence of a commercial marketing plan of a record label. An excellent example is the CD "Stacked". You can hear that this record is made with a love for music. The performances on their previous album "A Totally Different Disaster" weren't all they could be. The new album is a huge leap forward. "Stacked" is richer and has more melodic arrangements than the previous work of this band.
Fisheye is from Atlanta and consists of Jason Roberts (mandolin, guitar, backing vocals), Andy Robinson (bass and backing vocals), Brian Mobley (guitar and vocals) and Doug Ward (drums). One thing is for sure . With three good song writers in the ranks, the band has the necessary skills to produce excellent and write accessible songs. Songs that firmly hold their own. Typical contemporary sounds that build back on the good old days. Fisheye offers one highlight after another, citing from the folk and rock genres.
The airy and sometimes capturing songs are driven by Brian's pleasant voice, inventive mandolin playing of Jason, the fine backing vocals from Andy and the great rhythm and beat of drummer Doug. The formidable combination, beautiful vocal harmonies and efficient production do not produce heavy music. "Stacked" is a CD that encourages listening. With such a record in your offering it should be easy to find a way to reach the audience.
Genre: Acoustic Folk/Rock
Sounds Like: Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Bob Dylan, Blue Rodeo
Overall Talent Level: 10/10
Songwriting Skills: 10/10
CD Review: Atlanta based acoustic band, Fisheye, has released a third CD and it showcases the band's synergistic energies and stellar songwriting. Fisheye consists of Brian Mobley on vocals and guitar, Jason Roberts on guitar, mandolin, papoose, Andy Robinson on bass and keyboards, and Doug Ward on drums and percussion. Mobley, Roberts, and Robinson all contribute to the songwriting and the result is a seamless acoustic rock that is very satisfying. This is a band that is greater than the sum of it's parts. The combination of excellent songwriting and smooth arrangements creates a sound that is familiar yet unique. Some of my favorite songs were Find My Way Home with it's memorable chorus and sweet fingerpicking intro, The Bridge with it's BlueRodeo/Dylanesque vibe. and Barely Even There with it's propulsive energy. Fisheye delivers the goods with Stacked. This band is stacked with talent.
Fisheye play easy-on-the-ears acousti-pop of the sort that James Taylor and Don McLean popularized in the early '70s. Stacked is the Atlanta quartet's new, self-released ceedee, if you're into that sort of thing.
A Totally Different Disaster
Good natured, but could be a bigger sound... Fisheye are a four piece acoustic rock band stuffed to the gills with good songwriters - Brian Mobley, Andy Robinson and Jason Roberts. How can you pick between them ? Robinson has sweet lines like : "Small towns are like distant voices / far away they sound just fine / close up you can hear the sirens / scream inside your mind" in the to hell with you and everyone in this place of All I Want. Then you've got Mobley's excellent and snarly Johnny Come So Lately being dismissive with a newcomer "You got big ideas in mind / it might take a little time / we've just got to give you a chance/ .../what tricks do you possess to make a treasure of this mess ? Yeah, Show us how/Show us how/ Woah-ho, we're all so sceptical".
Jason Robert's contributes the lighter poppy songs - Any Road Up, Out of My Hands, and Sky Blue Sunday all deal with that perennial problem - women. They either want entertaining, linger in your heart after you've broken up, or are never around when you want them. On these Fisheye sound not unlike The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and they are good, catchy songs all, Out Of My Hands bounces along like a rubber ball; Sky Blue Sunday with it’s melody line echoing XTC’s Mayor of Simpleton never sounds more joyful than on the chorus : “Sky Blue Sunday, she brings me down”. Elsewhere Fisheye can be very different bands - Down is a funky soft blues groove that chunks right along and is dripping with wah-wahing guitar. Taken as a whole they remind this listener somewhat of Blue Rodeo.
If it all sounds a bit too good natured and anodyne then the closing track - The Ballad Of Don - finds Fisheye moving into less comfortable territory. Initially appearing to be a mild put down, close attention to the lyrics reveals Don's tale is of a kid who did all right at school, unexpectedly dropped out of college, got a dead end job and ends up in a relationship with a sixteen year old girl he's groomed in a chat room. This last leads to prison "and rightly so". The matter is emotionally muddied for the narrator as Mobley sings "got some sympathy but I can't show / guilt by association don'tcha know / I remember that kid I knew when we were both sixteen / makes me sad when I think of you and what you could have been...Don, Don you stupid man". You feel he was grasping for a stronger epithet.
Looked on as a whole A Totally Different Disaster is the sound of a small town, small town concerns, the need to break free and dream larger dreams, the community to be found but also the darker side of small towns. And it's also about that person you sometimes find yourself swapping your dreams for, the one who gives you new dreams.
The only fly in the ointment is that some tracks really deserved a richer, fatter, rounder, and, simply bigger sound which would have really let them soar.
Fisheye has something with Christmas, or at least with Christmas songs. For the last three years they have introduced the world to their own version of a classic Christmas song. In 2007, it was Happy Xmas (War is Over) by John Lennon. Last year it was “Have Yourself a Merry Christmas” and this year it was time for “Baby Please Come Home” by Phil Spector. If we can trust the rumors, the production of these songs is accompanied by buckets full of chicken wings and beer. It’s clear that “fun” is a key aspect in the production of these songs.
Not that this band necessarily needs to borrow songs from other musicians, because a Totally Different Disaster” is already their second CD in 2 years. “Bigger than Your Head” was well received last year by music lovers, which makes it difficult for the 2nd CD to surpass this. Such a 2nd CD seems sometimes a more difficult production and to be honest, that seems to be the case for “A Totally Different Disaster”.
One thing is for sure; with three good songwriters the band has the required qualities to produce a good song. There are numerous examples of this on the CD. For example, Ella Jane, a song that is seemingly endless. However, after re-listening to the song, it catches you and only then it becomes clear how beautiful the song really is. The up-tempo “Horse to Water”, which comes right after Ella Jane, is probably even better.
Also, lyrically these guys know what they are doing. “Prophecy Dam” sounds like this:
Got a head on my shoulders / Can't hold back the tide / A grave in the valley / A moment in time / But there is a season / When the waters recede / A small cemetery appears in the reeds /
When the water rises I will lose you once again / I return, remember love so true / But I can't get back to you/ .
It is especially Andy Robinson who is responsible for the lyrics of this caliber. This is the strongest point of the CD. It certainly is the music that peaks ones interest, but it’s the lyrics that keep the listeners engaged.
We mentioned earlier that this review is not 100% enthusiastic about 'A Totally Different Disaster'. The big drawback of the CD is the production. Regardless how good the songs are, more than once they sound superficial and too little attention was given to the mixing. Maybe the songs would have benefited from a “live” approach, which would have given songs like “All I Want” or “Horse to Water” a “rougher” character. This is hopefully something the band will keep in mind for their next CD.
Warm, easygoing, country-flavored acoustic rock is Fisheye's specialty. The dozen songs on the Atlanta band's second CD A Totally Different Disaster won't set records in the innovation department, but they're pleasant enough and Brian Mobley's sunlit, honeycomb voice can't help but turn your frown upside-down.
I never heard of these guys, but I got their cd to review and have thoroughly enjoyed it. Their sound is hard to pinpoint. It's definitely in the alternative folk rock genre. It's upbeat , down to earth and never too heavy. It reminded me of a cross between They Might Be Giants and 70's southern pop rock. The songs on this CD all have a melodic happy feel to them except, Ella Jane, which is a gorgeous ballad with some real melodic and lyrical surprises. That song is my personal favorite, along with Prophecy Dam and Horse To Water. However, every song on the CD has something to offer. If you like music that makes you feel good, I recommend you make this purchase.
Bigger Than Your Head
Better than my head... Fisheye have a way with melody, and a splendid selection of perky pop songs. It's not every band that manages to sound like they're sometimes covering Guy Clark (Old Friends and Cigarettes) and other times doing an acoustic guitar version of 90s indie-pop adventurers Luna. But Fisheye have ambition ... 15 (count 'em!) tracks ... offering the choice from perky pop stories of outsiders (Jupiter Jones) to moody Colin Blunstone-ish tracks (The Runner's Lament), this record is recommended.
Fisheye’s specialty is plunky, upbeat, acousticky singer-songwriter-type stuff with harmonies and such. Bigger Than Your Head is their generous 15-song album.