Videos by American Songwriter
Fly Golden Eagle
Rating: 3. 5 out of 5 stars
You’ve got to have a load of confidence as a relatively new act to print your band’s moniker in near impossible to read psychedelically scribbled letters on the disc’s swirling, druggy cover art. Then don’t bother putting any last names of the members where anyone can find them. Oh, and base the conceptual songs around a cult movie so obscure even many diehard film enthusiasts may not have seen it. Welcome to the wonderfully twisted, trippy and idiosyncratic world of Nashville’s Fly Golden Eagle.
Thankfully, once you get through all the self-imposed hurdles, the music generally justifies the anonymous aspects surrounding it. The propulsive, organ dominated sound is straight out of a ’60s garage as it mixes primitive Deep Purple with aspects of the Doors and space rock a la early Pink Floyd, all swamped in druggy colors and distorted guitar. If you can understand the lyrics sung by a heavily reverbed vocalist who only goes by “Ben,” they are apparently inspired by Alejandro Jodorowski’s 1973 avant-garde film The Holy Mountain. And, adding to the confusion is that the full version of this album titled Quartz runs 26 tracks, with the more compact one, with the extended title of Bijou, shortened to 12.
Regardless, these dozen cuts are driving and powerful, even in their quieter moments, and sound somewhat like the first few Alice Cooper releases. Echoed twang guitar, cool female backing vocals amped by a compressed, nearly mono production adds to the overall groovy vibe. It’s difficult to grasp what Ben is singing about in songs like “Stepping Stone” and “Tehuacana,” the latter with blazing drums, blaring brass and rowdy talk-sung vocals. But the effect is wildly energetic, gripping and just short of intense. The atmospheric ballad “Tangible Intangible” slows down the pace with a wonderful melody yet maintains the band’s general cloak of mystery.
Time will tell if hiding behind this enigmatic shroud ultimately pays off for Fly Golden Eagle. But give them credit for following their obtuse artistic impulses and producing tough, soulful, sweaty and undeniably retro rock and roll that feels sincere and unpretentious.