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The best kept secret in music


Ayin’s tentacles slither into so many subgenres of post-punk that Fear of Tigers exhibits symptoms of a multiple-personality disorder. Maybe that’s exactly what the band had in mind. Its instrumentation doesn’t create a specific sound so much as it jolts, then soothes, then assaults, often within a single measure. All this serves as a dizzying infrastructure for Shane Simms, whose vocals go from scream-singing (think mid-’90s Richmond, Va., crust punk) to mid-’80s Brit-pop without flinching. The upside of Fear is that once the band stops throwing itself in hundreds of directions (see “Parallels”), it hangs with the best of them, and Chris Owens’ excellent production reflects that. - LEO Weekly

Ayin opens its new album, "Fear of Tigers," with an a cappella choir harmonizing about neon lights, deep waters and some more neon lights.

Then comes some jazzy little organ and light drumming.

And then come the metal riffs, crazed carnival keys and frantic singing.

Somehow, Ayin transitions these violently opposed sections as fluidly as can be expected when one swings from indie doo-wop to metal thrash. Piling it all into one four-and-a-half-minute burst is no minor accomplishment.

That's pretty much the storyline of "Fear of Tigers." There's all the urgency and earnestness of modern hardcore, supported by some haunted house keyboards and drumming at the speed of light. System of a Down comes to mind, but even the bearers of new metal seem to be following more of a set plan than Ayin.

Hidden in all the spastic energy and arthouse noise are some pretty solid riffs, proving that you can get as oddball as you want, but you'd better adhere to a few basic tenets of rock music if you want to take it out of your mom's basement.

And Ayin looks just fine in the light.
- Velocity Weekly

I have been following this Louisville, Kentucky band for a little while and have been a witness to their evolution from an electronic duo known as Eye to their current abrasive, genre mixing, post rock/electronic sound they now call Ayin. What you have with Ayin is a now expanded five-member band who plays the usual conventional instruments involved in rock but with unorthodox experimentation and oddball composition. I am quite certain Ayin is one of the more original sounding groups in the Kentucky area. They may not be as crazy or demented as Frank Zappa, Mr. Bungle or Captain Beefheart, but pretty near to the mark of insanity with non-linear, stream-of-consciousness lyrics and vocalizations that match their varied sound. Its interesting to see just where one of their songs are going to go and its even more thrilling to realize that this group's age range is in the early twenties and knowing that they can do nothing
but improve with each album. Nothing Islands is their second proper independent label release from Thrown Brick Records; the rest of their catalog has been self-released. The eleven track CD features the frantic abrasive post/rock sound mix-up described above. The instrumentation and overall sound I found on the album is top notch, which is one of the benefits of constantly playing out live in the Kentucky area. The tracks are around the three to four minute ranges. Nothing Islands is a recommended listen. - Vital Weekly

For those readers who don’t know, Louisville has a substantial, albeit largely underappreciated, young music scene. Doing their own part to bolster this little-known jewel in the back pocket of our fair city is Ayin, a five-piece rock band determined to keep our ears buzzing.

Their brand new release, “Nothing Islands,” is their first “proper” full-length album and does well to document the band’s distinctive sound, an upbeat and frantic caffeine and sugar-high approach that stuffs the churning aggressiveness and dense complexity of punk and math rock into the slightly askew hooks and cheerfully dissonant melodies of the so-called “indie-pop” and early New Wave genres.

Ayin sounds like a band that sincerely wants to create catchy and vital songs and isn’t dull enough to keep within the lines of traditional song structures. The album is able to lay out a solid melody and then revel in suddenly bursting away from it, carrying the song off in a new direction.

“Framebreaking” is a great example of how tightly and spastically this group can play. Very fast and intricate chord progressions and tempo shifts dominate the track, fluttering wildly between heavy and abrasive guitar crunches and gentler, steadier keyboard and bass lines.

In “I am the Friendly Ghost, Hooray!”, panicked guitars lash out in discordant and chaotic patterns, then fall out completely for a quick drumroll sequence only to rip back into the forefront while the anxious rhythms continue behind.

Even with all of the album’s frenzy, there are moments of undeniable glee peppered throughout the album’s 11 tracks. Whether it’s during the ultra-happy keyboard parts in “Petting Shadows” or the out-of-nowhere sentimental interlude in “She Shapes the Static,” you’re bound to find yourself donning a knowing smile at the good humor Ayin often exudes.

The album deserves special recognition for its sparkling-clean production and for the technical exactness of each song’s delivery. Everyone’s instruments sound right on point all the way through. If this record is Ayin’s attempt at legitimacy, then the band has succeeded.

And though the group does owe a small debt to some prominent old and new Louisville bands that helped invent and refine this kind of agitated and disparate sound, it would be ignorant to call Ayin derivative. Make no mistake: Ayin is making music on their own terms, by themselves and for themselves.

It feels like they are just uninterested in taking their musical complexity and strength too seriously. They celebrate their intricate experimentation without the bleak and tormented overtones prominent in other Louisville bands that have adopted this intense style. Ayin’s fury is playful and inclusive instead of bitter and off-putting. They fuse the positive elements from all of their influences to create a complicated and imaginative, yet still pleasurable and even danceable sound.

All in all, Ayin has done well with this release in distinguishing themselves from many of the other local bands playing today. This should not, however, represent the culmination of the group’s aspirations. Ayin still has a lot of room to grow and tweak and perfect, and with “Nothing Islands,” they’ve definitely taken a solid step in the right direction. - Louisville Cardinal

It started, basically, when the oil gauge dropped. They were between Houston and Dallas, near a town called Madisonville, and there was a good deal of smoke coming from under the hood of the 1994 Chevy Astro van that Louisville’s Ayin calls home on the road. They soon learned, after pulling the ashen beast off the highway, that the radiator was fucked: all burned out, overheated.

Daisy Schwartz and Sarah Patrick, bassist and keyboardist, respectively, slogged down the shoulder, and soon enough were retrieved by a roving pack of hippies, who took them to meet with a state trooper, where they called AAA and waited with the cops for three or so hours.

The van sat useless, like some wounded elephant playing dead.
The AAA guy towed it to a repair shop, where the members of Ayin were presented an estimate: $1,500. Too much, Schwartz said, no way it could cost that much for an oil pump. The mechanic disagreed, saying the van needed a new engine.

Nonsense, they thought.

So they had it towed to another place, which is where it sat until last weekend — with all of the band’s equipment — having its engine completely replaced. It was the oil pump that did it, the bastard, and of course driving at speed without the proper fluids in the engine. All told the band dropped about $5,000 they don’t really have — that includes repairs, hotel rooms, gas, a rental car (since no band member is over 21, they were basically entrapped, according to Schwartz, into paying an additional $300 to get a car back to Louisville).

The whole scene is unfunny beyond belief, particularly for five young folks in college with no money and no immediate prospects on the order of 5,000 extra bucks. But it’s no death knell.

In fact, after retrieving their van and equipment last weekend, Ayin picked up at least remotely where it left off, preparing for tomorrow’s show with what they call some of their favorite bands: the St. Louis post-electro dance duo Femme Fatality, Cincinnati’s Foxy Shazam, and Look What I Did, from Los Angeles.

Being fans of the same band is a profound achievement for Ayin, a weird mix of people with wildly disparate interests who — having grown through the ignominy of adolescence together and retained an articulate understanding of one another’s adulthoods as a result — make rock music informed by everything from video game boop music and Iron Maiden to Milemarker and scores of Louisville bands past and present. It’s an intriguing dynamic to play out on record — Nothing Islands, the band’s debut full-length, wears the blend quite well. The band also plans to record again this spring.

“Ayin is an inherently hypocritical band,” Schwartz said with a smirk. “I think the main difference between our band and other people’s bands is that we don’t subscribe to one particular ideology.”
“That’s why I think it’s odd that we work well together,” Patrick added.
login or register - LEO Weekly

Louisville, Kentucky’s AYIN has a bass heavy and jazzily experimental hard rock sound coupled with good vocals and songwriting. If you’re one of the handful of people aware of Nomeansno, they kind of remind me of that, but with more of an eighties new wave influence. “Framebreaking” even has a passage that sounds like a Smiths vocal melody. Of course it isn’t long before the song is veering into a noisy breakdown. While I can point out influences here and there, AYIN doesn’t really fit neatly into any of the popular genres of the day, which is refreshing. The closest I could come to categorizing them is to say they’re the sort of band I’d expect to be on Alternative Tentacles in the late 80’s/early 90’s, boasting good songwriting that has hooks but isn’t commercial and good musicianship that impresses without turning self indulgent. - Utter Trash

Bands of this sort tend to confuse me at times. Sometimes they have a few too many cooks in the kitchen, so to speak. They try to identify themselves through channeling numerous influences before settling on a certain sound. Ayin seems like they are almost there, but are still in the midst of the process. While their overall sound is best affiliated with bands such as Milemarker (in particular older material) and Song Of Zarathustra (especially on the short opener, "E.F.P.O.", my favorite track on this) Ayin make it a point to introduce some subtle indie melodies to the mix and even a little white boy funk every now and again through repetitious bass parts. At some points I find it exceptionally intriguing to listen to and at other points it’s just not my thing. But either way, if you’re down in Louisville and they are playing give ‘em a shot. - Hanging Like A Hex


1. Dead Sexy Future EP (2003; self-released)
2. Nothing Islands (2004; Thrown Brick Records)
3. Rock N' Roll Killed My Children 7" (2004; Thrown Brick Records)
4. Fear of Tigers (2006; Shrodinger/Engineer Records)


Feeling a bit camera shy


Unlike many bands that constantly disband and reform in different configurations, Louisville, KY’s Ayin has a significant history. The first lineup under the name Ayin came together in late 1998, consisting of current guitarist Jacob Gotlib and former keyboardist/occasional saxophonist Josh Shapero. They recorded a dearth of embarrassing ambient/industrial music, released in small quantities on CD-R, all of which thankfully, are no longer available. They met vocalist Shane Simms the next year because they were all wearing the same Nine Inch Nails t-shirt and soon began to collaborate. Later that month, they met bassist Daisy (who lied and told them he knew how to play drums) at a house party. Soon, drummer Brandon Thompson (who at the time played in pop-punk outfit 451) fell into the mix, and the quintet attempted to learn material previously recorded by Gotlib and Shapero.

Failing miserably, they spent the next few years as an obnoxious and fearful noise band, earning notoriety and contempt throughout Louisville. Upon graduating high school, the group decided to actually practice and write fully-formed songs and self-released a limited 7-song EP, Dead Sexy Future in the summer of 2003. Shortly after, Shapero left the group to live in Japan and the remaining four recruited the classically-trained Sarah Patrick on keyboards and vocals, finalizing the group's current lineup. Ayin gigged incessantly around the region, releasing their first full-length, Nothing Islands on Brightskull Records in 2004, as well as the 7" EP “Rock and Roll Killed My Baby.” Touring the Midwest, East coast and South during breaks between school, Ayin shared the stage with such luminaries as the Blood Brothers, Mindless Self Indulgence, Pretty Girls Make Graves, An Albatross, and many lesser-known greats.

The two years the group spent crafting their second album “Fear of Tigers” was the most intense of their career. The band spent days refining the finest details in the music and as members went through rough personal trials, the music turned darker, bleaker, yet more honest and personal than anything they'd ever written. In the summer of 2006, Ayin finalized and recorded the album with Chris Owens (of Lords) at his Headbanging Kill Your Momma studios. What was by far the longest and most laborious recording process that Ayin had ever undertaken had yielded an expansive and unrelenting album—an indictment of the blasé attitudes prevalent in a culture in dark times.