Laughing Eye Weeping Eye
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Laughing Eye Weeping Eye

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Band Folk Avant-garde

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How much longer will New Weird America be "new?" It's been nearly a decade since people started describing all kinds of acoustic string-based music with the "freak" modifier, and still we have random slices of this very scattered and broken genre creeping into the pop-music consciousness time and again—music that calls us back to an imagined understanding of the various tropes of "Americana" at its most general sense, and supremely fucks with that imagination. What we need is something newer than New Weird America. Something like New Weird Whole Damned History Of The World.

So in the mail comes this new, strange, beautifully packaged 12" LP (on purple vinyl... nice) from Chicago's Laughing Eye Weeping Eye, the duo comprised of Rebecca Schoenecker and Patrick Holbrook. There are moments of gospel and American spiritual song here (see especially closer cover of "Kumbaya")—but for the most part, LEWE is intriguing for how it avoids freak folk mainstays like the blues and 60s folk, instead channeling a new set of sources yet to be tapped by any weirdos I've come across in the contemporary moment. This is still Western stuff regardless, with its share of Irish tune, English court music, and maybe French chanson or even Gregorian chant too. And of course, it does all of this in a very Weird way (note the capital W), which should be your first "yeah, I'd like to hear this" sort of turn on. Weird like the vocals. Schoenecker's creepy chirps, sighing glissandos, whiney drones and operatic falsettos. Weird like the instrumentation, pumped with a heavy dose of harmonium, harps, hand-claps and horns, tambourines, bells, flutes and fiddles (NOT violins...), etc. Weird in the songs themselves and their disparate natures, coming together to form what feels like a children's play—a puppet show full of colorful characters, armies marching into battles, weeping maidens, pirates and the like.

Maybe (probably) a concept album, maybe not. The one problem is that this play—if it is one—is a bit hard to follow. I like all the characters. I like the situations they're in. But I have nary a clue as to how they really relate to one another. Nonetheless, Where Snakes & Seers Go triumphs due to the fact that it's a good band, doing weird things in weird new ways, and doing all of those things quite weirdly-well. They make an unbearably creepy voice listenable, relatable. They put that voice into charming, inventive songs. Some of those songs are actually very, very beautiful—"River of Golden Treasures" is sleeping-tune mixtape worthy with its gorgeous, humbling melodic meditations. Overall, great new band, bound to develop, expand, and extrapolate on their ideas into epics. I'd love to hear them take on the scope of a full-on production, score a film, or write and perform an actual musical or something. Here's hoping... - Tome To The Weather Machine


If you’re a regular AGB reader, I’m sure you’ve noticed I’m not too into weird folksy stuff. But every now and then, something really weird comes along and sweeps me off my feet, smothering me with smooches. That’s Laughing Eye Weeping Eye. This shit is wacky as fuck and it’s the only time I’ve deemed “freak folk” an appropriate & relevant descriptor.
Chicagoans Rebecca Schoenecker and Patrick Holbrook probably heard all the lame jokers getting labeled as freak folk and were like “fuck this” and felt the urge to show everybody what’s up. The heart of LEWE’s weirdness is Rebecca’s initially almost unbearable vocals. At first, she sounds whiney, abrasive, and incompetent but by the end of the album you realize she can actually have a remarkably beautiful voice. She chooses when to sound like a howling cat, enchanting siren, demented shaman, or elegant princess, and it always works perfectly.
Like most freak folkers, LEWE’s array of instruments is vast but pretty traditional. There’s the tambourines, bells, chimes, recorders, Casios, guitars, plenty of handclapping, and, most importantly, the ever-present and always welcome harmonium. In fact, it sounds like they use a harmonium as the core for most tracks and I fucking LOVE IT. Gorgeous reeds humming and wheezing those irresistible droning chords, adding an element of soothing bliss to the frequently atonal album.
I’m not gonna lie, when I first heard Where Snakes & Seers Go, I wasn’t sold. I was damn interested because anything this weird always catches my attention, but it took me awhile to see its genius & inner beauty. Laughing Eye Weeping Eye probably aren’t going to be the next Prince Rama but I’m absolutely certain their fans are going to be wayyyy more dedicated. Once you have that LEWE epiphany, you’re fuckin hooked for life. - Anti-Gravity Bunny


Discography

Where Snakes & Seers Go - LP - 2011
Lies The Shadow - EP - 2010

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Bio

Laughing Eye Weeping Eye performances are akin to watching a vaudevillian storyteller in a medieval church with gospel singers, gnomes, and goats. Bandmates in this lifetime and gurus in another, Chicagoans Rebecca Schoenecker and Patrick Holbrook create a multifaceted experience that incorporates harmonium, looped vocals, toy instruments, and effects. Inspired by folk and spiritual music, LEWE performances induce sing-along incantations that often result in participants to shake and sing in tongues. LEWE has toured nationally since 2010, sharing bills with bands such as Arrington de Dionyso, Spires That in the Sunset Rise, The Cherry Blossoms, Wildbirds & Peacedrums, Fursaxa, Weyes Blood, Circuit des Yeux, and others.