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Life At Best

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Audio CD, August 16, 2011
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

2011 album from the Texas-based Country quartet. The Eli Young Band--four musicians who met during their college days in Texas--is now 11 years into a career built on touring without a single lineup change. Produced by Mike Wrucke with executive producer Frank Liddell (a team noted for its award-winning work with Miranda Lambert), Life At Best takes the listener on a journey, winding through songscapes that walk a delicate line. There's a distinct variance from track to track as EYB veers from energetic quasi-rockers to steel-ladled country songs to conflicted ballads. And yet the album maintains a singular identity, built around a sound that's been masterfully created over the course of three studio albums. Features the hit 'Crazy Girl'.

About the Artist

It's a crazy-good story. The Eli Young Band--four musicians who met during their college days in Texas--is now 11 years into a career built on touring without a single lineup change. That dedication is paying off big-time as the band enjoys a crazy new level of success. They sell a crazy amount of tickets. Get a crazy amount of airplay. And are selling a crazy amount of downloads--EYB is on the verge of its first Gold single for the aptly named "Crazy Girl."

"Crazy Girl" is a perfect introduction to Life At Best, a 14-track album that takes the band's wide-ranging multi-genre influences and distills them into a focused, engaging vision: edgy country with hints of heartland rock bands such as Tom Petty and classic Eagles.

Produced by Mike Wrucke with executive producer Frank Liddell (a team noted for its award-winning work with Miranda Lambert), Life At Best takes the listener on a journey, winding through songscapes that walk a delicate line. There's a distinct variance from track to track as EYB veers from energetic quasi-rockers to steel-ladled country songs to conflicted ballads. And yet the album maintains a singular identity, built around a sound that's been masterfully created over the course of three studio albums.

"We were able to just go in and record the entire record all in the same time period, and so you're in the same state of mind the entire time you're recording," lead singer Mike Eli notes. "There's something to be said about that when you're creating music, and I think this album demonstrates it. There's a degree of cohesiveness with this record that I don't think we've had with our prior records."

"In the very beginning, we decided that this is gonna be the four of us or it wasn't gonna work," Jones reflects. "Way before Nashville was even on our radar, we had time to figure out how we wanted to do it and really kind of commit to each other. We decided that we would be stronger, the four of us going through it together instead of just one person, which I think is the best thing about being a band. You have a group of people to share everything with--to share some of the work and keep each other grounded."

"Crazy Girl" underscored the strength of the group's foundation when it sold 47,000 copies in its first week out. It quickly became the fastest radio hit in EYB's career and sent an undisputable signal that the group is now a coast-to-coast phenomenon.

But as strong a reception as "Crazy Girl" has received; it's merely an introduction to an album long on ingratiating melodies, magnetic hooks and subtly provocative storylines.

"What I like about our records is there are different kinds of songs here and there, and there's something for everybody," Young says. "We don't set out to write just one kind of song."

EYB members wrote or co-wrote nine of the 14 tracks, drawing on their collective experiences as musical partners and growing individuals. They referenced their struggles as a band, the pitfalls of relationships, the complexities of family heritage and the difficulties of simply being human. Despite digging into hardship, they transmitted it with an unerring sense of optimism.

And they did it in a way that only four guys who have held together as friends and business partners through several years of difficult touring can.

"Life At Best has just a little bit more maturity than anything we've done before," Jones says. "We're always writing about what we're going through, and the type of song that appeals to us changes with our lives. We've been growing up together and going through the same phases really since college, and you can see some of that in this record. You can see that we're a little bit older than in Jet Black & Jealous."

And a little more established. Their growing TV presence, their continuing road-warrior commitment and the imminent Gold of "Crazy Girl" all point Life At Best in one direction: a crazy little thing called success.

It's a crazy-good story. The Eli Young Band--four musicians who met during their college days in Texas--is now 11 years into a career built on touring without a single lineup change. That dedication is paying off big-time as the band enjoys a crazy new level of success. They sell a crazy amount of tickets. Get a crazy amount of airplay. And are selling a crazy amount of downloads--EYB is on the verge of its first Gold single for the aptly named "Crazy Girl."

Penned by fellow artist Lee Brice and Nashville songwriter Liz Rose ("You Belong With Me"), "Crazy Girl" is a perfect introduction to Life At Best, a 14-track album that takes the band's wide-ranging multi-genre influences and distills them into a focused, engaging vision: edgy country with hints of heartland rock bands such as Tom Petty and classic Eagles.

Produced by Mike Wrucke with executive producer Frank Liddell (a team noted for its award-winning work with Miranda Lambert), Life At Best takes the listener on a journey, winding through songscapes that walk a delicate line. There's a distinct variance from track to track as EYB veers from energetic quasi-rockers to steel-ladled country songs to conflicted ballads. And yet the album maintains a singular identity, built around a sound that's been masterfully created over the course of three studio albums.

"We were able to just go in and record the entire record all in the same time period, and so you're in the same state of mind the entire time you're recording," lead singer Mike Eli notes. "There's something to be said about that when you're creating music, and I think this album demonstrates it. There's a degree of cohesiveness with this record that I don't think we've had with our prior records."

There's also a degree of anticipation--understandable given that "Crazy Girl" provides a new level of exposure to a national presence that's been created by simple touring. Their last album, Jet Black & Jealous, debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard Country Albums chart in 2008 even though the group had never made the Top 10 through radio play at that point in its career. One title from that project, "Always The Love Songs," provided that Top 10 breakthrough while the group earned critical acclaim from People, USA Today, Billboard, The New Yorker, American Songwriter and Country Weekly and picked up television appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and The Tonight Show With Jay Leno. EYB also nabbed a nomination from the Academy of Country Music for Top New Vocal Group of the Year.

Still, nothing demonstrated the band's impact on the public consciousness better than its ability to turn a disappointing concert hurdle into personal triumph. A handful of dates on the multi-act Country Throwdown Tour were dropped in 2010 as the promoters made a cost-cutting move during a difficult touring season. With only nine days notice, the Eli Young Band announced a concert on its own in Dallas and sold an impressive 20,000 tickets with little advance.

"We were rolling the dice on that show," drummer Chris Thompson admits. "It was great to see the payoff on that concert and know that those people have our back."

If the band's fan base has its back, it's merely an extension of the solidarity the Eli Young Band has demonstrated since the beginning. Thompson, guitarist James Young and bass player Jon Jones formed an instant friendship and started performing around Denton when they were students at North Texas State University in 1998. Eli came into the picture when he enrolled at the school the next year, first playing duo shows with Young, then singing lead as the gang of four officially made its live debut in October 2000.

"In the very beginning, we decided that this is gonna be the four of us or it wasn't gonna work," Jones reflects. "Way before Nashville was even on our radar, we had time to figure out how we wanted to do it and really kind of commit to each other. We decided that we would be stronger, the four of us going through it together instead of just one person, which I think is the best thing about being a band. You have a group of people to share everything with--to share some of the work and keep each other grounded."

There was plenty of work. And little pay. EYB built its reputation by honing its music in front of audiences. They'd play a club, sometimes for fewer than 100 members, but when they returned to that venue, the crowds were invariably larger. Within three visits, they usually sold out the house and would soon need to move up to a larger hall.

The group routinely plowed its earnings back into the business, buying better equipment, fueling its cramped van, and gambling on the good vibes the musicians shared as a band--and with their growing legion of fans. It's the same method that lifted many classic bands: New Jersey's Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Seattle's Nirvana and Detroit's Bob Seger. The Eli Young Band established itself first in Denton, grew to prominence in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, expanded into a regional act across Texas and Oklahoma and eventually extended its tentacles from coast to coast.

EYB shed the van in favor of a bus several years ago and has stepped into even larger venues, opening for the likes of Alan Jackson, Jason Aldean and the Dave Matthews Band. And the group has reached a level where it regularly sells out 5,000-seaters on its own in the Southwest and 3,000-seaters in other areas of the nation.

"Crazy Girl" underscored the strength of the group's foundation when it sold 47,000 copies in its first week out. It quickly became the fastest radio hit in EYB's career and sent an undisputable signal that the group is now a coast-to-coast phenomenon.

"Some of the biggest responders were way outside of Texas," Jones asserts. "It seemed like everywhere we're went people were really welcoming us into the doors and ready to give the single a chance."

But as strong a reception as "Crazy Girl" has received; it's merely an introduction to an album long on ingratiating melodies, magnetic hooks and subtly provocative storylines. "Even If It Breaks Your Heart" kicks it off with a breezy Petty feel, and the project runs through the punchy "Every Other Memory," the optimistic crunch of "Recover," the introspective ballad "My Old Man's Son" and the gritty "Skeletons."

"What I like about our records is there are different kinds of songs here and there, and there's something for everybody," Young says. "We don't set out to write just one kind of song."

EYB members wrote or co-wrote nine of the 14 tracks, drawing on their collective experiences as musical partners and growing individuals. They referenced their struggles as a band, the pitfalls of relationships, the complexities of family heritage and the difficulties of simply being human. Despite digging into hardship, they transmitted it with an unerring sense of optimism.

And they did it in a way that only four guys who have held together as friends and business partners through several years of difficult touring can. They were all born within a 15-month span, and that's created a shared prism through which they're able to see the world and their music.

"Life At Best has just a little bit more maturity than anything we've done before," Jones says. "We're always writing about what we're going through, and the type of song that appeals to us changes with our lives. We've been growing up together and going through the same phases really since college, and you can see some of that in this record. You can see that we're a little bit older than in Jet Black & Jealous."

And a little more established. Their growing TV presence, their continuing road-warrior commitment and the imminent Gold of "Crazy Girl" all point Life At Best in one direction: a crazy little thing called success.


1. Even If If Breaks Your Heart
2. Crazy Girl
3. Every Other Memory
4. On My Way
5. Skeletons
6. I Love You
7. The Fight
8. My Old Man's Son
9. Recover
10. The Falling
11. War On A Desperate Man
12. Say Goodnight
13. How Quickly You Forget
14. Life At Best

Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 16, 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: BMX
  • ASIN: B00577WFXQ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,908 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By terpfan1980 VINE VOICE on August 16, 2011
Format: MP3 Music
The early release (Crazy Girl) from this album came out some time ago now (at the time I'm writing this review) and from the first time I heard it and/or saw the video I was hooked. That was probably inevitable, given past enjoyment and appreciation of the works of this group.

In anycase, this is (again, at the time I am writing this) the latest from this group from Denton, Texas. Starting with the first track, Even If It Breaks Your Heart, Mike Eli's vocals draw listeners in and offer a soothing voice of encouragement harkening back to a time and place where dreams can offer both hope and disappointment. This is a song of nostalgia, but offering that additional message about looking beyond the potential heartbreak and continuing to dream anyway.

Crazy Girl follows. The video is one that seemed to offer the band (at least from what I could tell on the "behind the video"/making of type show) a lot of fun. Crazy Girl is a love song at heart, but the video offers a different view that puts a twist on the situation. In the end, Crazy Girl is about loving someone like crazy, something that I've told my fiance (soon to be wife now!) applies to herself in my own eyes.

Every Other Memory picks up the pace and tempo though the subject of the song is about thinking of a past love that was lost who still haunts every other memory.

On My Way maintains a bit of the up-tempo pacing with a happier subject compared to the tunes that preceeded it on this album. There ain't a worry in my world... on my way.

Skeletons offers a bit of a Springsteen sound as it starts. The best I can suggest is give a listen, you should pick it up right away. The topic here is the Skeletons in the closet that we all have.
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I was fortunate to see this band perform live at the Louisiana Delta Music Festival, this year. I watched & enjoyed their live concert from beginning to end. This is one great band & this is one great album. They are on the "Country Music Tribute To Lynyrd Skynyrd" Album, where they perform "Gimme 3 Steps", & they performed that song, along with songs from this album at the concert that I saw. I was very impressed with this band. I love this album, and all their stuff. They may be classified as "Country", but to me, they have a "borderline Southern Rock", music style. This is a 14 track album, that you can listen to from beginning to end, and enjoy every bit of it. I highly recommend this album, along with all their "stuff". Thanks!!!!!
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Much like Gary Allan, Eli Young Band remains cloaked largely in obscurity. Periodically, you'll see them achieve chart success with songs like "Crazy Girl" and "Always the Love Songs," but usually, you won't see them topping the charts. Which is too bad, because this band is great.

"Life At Best" contains all the songs off of the "Crazy Girl EP" including the band's current popular single "Crazy Girl" plus 9 additional tracks. Every song on the album is a winner. Not one track needs to be skipped and it can be enjoyed from track one through track fourteen. With their breezy sound, the band moves easily from one song to the next.

Standout tracks:
Even If It Breaks Your Heart
Crazy Girl
The Fight
War On a Desperate Man
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By netguyinpa on December 20, 2012
Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
I only recently even heard of Eli Young Band. After hearing "Life at Best", I can't wait to hear more of their music. There are so many good tracks on this CD. "Crazy Girl" is probably the one most people know, but "Even If It Breaks Your Heart", "Skeletons", "Recover" and "Say Goodnight" are just a few of the other tracks that I immediately liked.

I'm a classic rock listener for the most part, although I listen to a wide variety of music, including blues, jazz, and even classical piano. I'm very selective about the country music that I like, but EYB reached right out and grabbed my attention. I enthusiastically look forward to hearing more of their material.
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EYB is currently my favorite country band - and there's not even a close second. This is a great cd from start to finish. Great range of songs, incredible harmonies, and a disc you'll keep in the player for months.

Crazy Girl is a great lead single and I'm curious which way they'll go with the follow up. Stand out songs for me were My Old Man's Son, The Fight, I Love You, How Quickly You Forget.

Even if you've loved every song you've ever heard on the radio by this band, I guarantee you'll find something on this cd that you didn't expect - and it will be something you'll love.
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By B. Olson on August 25, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I love EYB so much that I own all of their albums. Some of the lyrics of the past have been amazing. This album on the other hand is not that great. It has 14 songs and I like about 5 at most. Of course Crazy Girl is on here and that is a catch all tune and will probably help boost sales but it isn't their best.
I am not too keen on very main stream artists and have always liked them from the first time I heard them. This album shot high (I watched their interviews with them saying this would be the best) and I think it missed the mark.
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