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Combinations

4.3 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Eisley make some of the downright prettiest, and strangest, pop of the 2000s. Guitar pop-rock, yet layered; romantic, yet quirky; uplifting, yet melancholy, Eisley boasts an unexpected depth and breadth for a family group led by two singing sisters. Building on its lauded 2005 debut Room Noises, Combinations is diverse producer Richard Gibbs has played with Oingo Boingo, produced Korn and scored the film Queen Of The Damned but it is always centered on the winsome harmonies of Stacy and Sherri DuPree (with guitarist sister Chauntelle and a rhythm section of bassist cousin Garron and drummer brother Weston). That combination has made Eisley one of the most promising young acts of the decade.

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The great thing about Eisley's follow-up to 2005's Room Noises is not just that it's a crystalline, polished piece of pop craft, but that it still manages to feel personal. The DuPree sisters have conjured another blizzard of vocal harmony, and made it sound like something they could do in their sleep. But here it floats over music that is both sturdy and whimsical. Still quite young (Sherri is 23, Stacy is 18), the sisters and their assorted family members (all five members of the band are related) have improved on the occasional blandness that compromised Noises. Combinations is still over-produced and would profit from a few more rough edges, but the guitars are a little crunchier and the music sounds weightier. Less content to exist as backgrounds for the DuPrees' lovely voices, the structures of songs like "I Could Be There for You" stay fresh and unpredictable after more than a few listens. And yet there's no fat here, with no track exceeding four minutes. That economy of sound helps Eisley get a lot of range on a song like "Taking Control," which opens with a gorgeous verse, shifts into a blink-and-you'll-miss-it bridge and--bam!--we're onto the chorus. The whole thing takes exactly 26 seconds. It's a little scary how young they are relative to their songwriting chops. Listening to Eisley is fun now, but even more fun when you consider their through-the-roof potential. --Matthew Cooke
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 14, 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Reprise / Wea
  • ASIN: B000RHRGIA
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,843 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Cale E. Reneau on August 14, 2007
Format: Audio CD
The first time I heard of Eisley was at least four or five years ago. I remember watching MTV and seeing them featured on "You Hear It First." At that time, this underdog band from Texas had little to show for their efforts except for an EP and a tour with Coldplay. Still, the band aroused my interest, and I kept them on my radar. It wasn't until I saw them live in January of 2005 that I finally fell in love with them. Their debut full-length album was released just a few weeks later, and I can remember rushing into my local store minutes after they opened so that I could get a copy. "Room Noises" was a marvelous and wonderful album. It is one of the few albums that you can listen and just drift off to. The DuPree sisters were able to craft stories and imagery that was simply beyond their years, and the music they created was absolutely dreamy. It's been about 2 1/2 years since then and my hopes have been high for another brilliant album for some time. The question is, "Does 'Combinations' live up to it's predecessor?"

When you hit "Play" on your CD player, it's immediately clear that what you are about to hear will sound very little like "Room Noises." The lead-off track, "Many Funerals" is a very straight-forward rock track, completely unlike anything we've heard from the band before. In the chorus, the sisters sing "Break, break down!" over an aggressive guitar and bass. Is this really Eisley? Indeed, it is. While the song isn't bad by any means, it can definitely catch you off guard if you're not anticipating it.

Get used to it though. Eisley takes a much more traditional approach to making music this time around. Their lyrics are much more straightforward now, often singing about things that are relatable rather than fairies and forests.
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Format: Audio CD
Eisley is all grown up. Once they sang all about trolley woods, sea kings and "telescope eyes."

But in their second full-length album "Combinations," the Texan pop family sounds somewhat different. Their pretty pop and girlish vocals have stayed the same, but their music has darkened and matured all around -- the instrumentation more textured and rich, and the tone more wistful.

"Bring along your tricks and trade/we will lie here/here we lay/and though this ship is out to sea/I'm content to lie peacefully," Stacy and Sherri Dupree sing over a gentle nautical acoustic melody.

But it doesn't stay so mellow-sounding -- the song blossoms into a hard-edged pop tune, with moments of epic fuzzy guitar or shimmering piano-rock. And the song gets darker too: "And now we have no chances/We fill the empty caskets/and leave you with your tears... We all will take more chances/Before our lives end too..."

Things don't get much lighter in the sprightly "Invasion" tune ("You will be one of us painless, us blameless/go to sleep, this won't hurt a bit/shifting your shape to our shells"). They stick mostly to the upbeat sound, which is more lush and full-bodied than ever before -- catchy country-pop, swirling little rockers, ethereal ballads, gentle acoustic songs, and finally the haunting, music-box ballad "If You're Wondering."

For the record, Eisley's music hasn't changed THAT much -- they still have pretty, shimmering pop and deceptively simple lyrics. But the lyrics have more of an emphasis on love and tragic occurrances (like alien invasion, suicide and plagues), as if the band has grown up from children to young adults. As they have.
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Format: Audio CD
When reviewing the full length debut Room Noises from the family band, four siblings and one neighbor on bass, Eisley, I closed out my review, "I expect big things from Eisley in the future." The album then went on to land at number four of the Best Albums of 2005. Since the release of the album, the band has been touring, getting married and completed the DuPree only lineup by replacing the neighbor with a cousin to play bass.

But those expectations of big this is what makes the follow up, Combinations a let down. Where Room Noises was a breath a fresh air with melodic songs as a backdrop of plush melodies of the two lead singers, Combinations is just a rehash of the first album with songs only as good as the middle of the road ones on the debut. Not one song here comes close to the emotional punch of Marvelous Things or Telescope Eyes. Not to mention it is hard to ask put down over ten dollars for an album that barely breaks the half an hour mark.

With that said, Combinations isn't a bad album. It starts off with Many Funerals, a driving song where the all dudes rhythm section on drums and bass add to the darker theme that the band didn't explore on previous albums. Taking Control is a bouncing ditty which could be an instant sing-a-long at concerts. While Come Clean concludes with a family chorus.

The group did look like they took a different approach to writing this time around. Where the first album was littered with mythical themes about Sea Kings and bats with butterfly wings, it looks like all the marriages and engagements in the band has taken them in a more personal subject matter this time around touching on death (More Funerals) and a lot about love (I Could Be There for You, the title track).
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