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CD REVIEW: Eyestrings - 'Burdened Hands'
By Steve Allat - 01/20/2004 - 08:52 PM EST

Artist: Eyestrings
Album: 'Burdened Hands'
CD Review: Label: Split Difference Records
Tracks: 10
Released: 2004
For Fans Of:: Kansas, Yes, Radiohead, Dream Theatre, (Old) Genesis
Fav Track: Anachronism, Just A Body, Slackjaw, Nothing.

By all accounts, this is one CD that I should have completely dug and been able to sink my teeth into. It offers many things that I love in progressive music - excellent musicianship, very good song styling, and a fairly unique identity. As well, this 4 piece, led by Ryan Parmenter, seems to have all the tools at their disposal to give the listener a little bit of everything, from the quirky but thoughtful lyrics to the 'song within a song' feel of the extended numbers. So, what gives?

Before reading the accompanying bio, and before I was a minute into the first song, they were there - all the influences listed in the bio were not only a part of the music, they were fused with it. As I tried to listen and separate the two, I found it a tough thing to do. A few songs later, and shaking out the initial cobwebs, I finally heard what I was listening for - Eyestrings, transcending their obvious influences. Now, this is why I like new music. And the good news is, that for most of the remainder of the disc, this is mostly what happens. You know, I think I would have appreciated this CD much more initially had the tracks been reversed, not overdosing me with nostalgia from the start.

As mentioned, the skills of the band - bassist Mathew Kennedy, Guitarist Alan Rutter, Drummer Bob Young, and Ryan - are extremely well developed. It is easy to appreciate their skill, and the way they use it within the songs. They play to serve the song, with each getting small opportunities to shine. Time changes, tempo changes and sensitive playing all contribute to songs that are very challenging and interesting to listen to, especially upon repeated listens.

Ironically, however, my favourite song on this CD is 'Nothing', which is very minimal in it's music, but is maximum on originality and a band displaying it's unique voice. And that voice, which resembles Joe Jackson imitating Bowie, is very effective and pleasing, suiting the music all along, even though it is sometimes buried a bit in the mix.

I expect that as Ryan and the boys continue writing and playing that they will continue to hone in on their own sound, with nods to the past without as much reliance on it.

Still, I recommend this CD highly to anyone interested in a progressive band that knows what they are doing, as there aren't very many bands as qualified as this one out there.

Contact: Ryan Parmenter,
Web site:

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