Song of the Day: Animal Eyes - Bender

photo by Todd Walberg

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is “Bender” by Animal Eyes from the 2013 self-released EP, Ursus.

Animal Eyes - Bender (MP3)

Alaska-via-Portland quintet Animal Eyes’ joyously turbulent music takes as many stylistic and tonal turns in one four-minute song as many bands do in one album. Although the five members of the band - trumpter/guitarist Tyler Langham, accordionist/keyboardist Sam Tenhoff, string player Tyler Figley, drummer Haven Holtz Matthews, and bassist Colin McArthur - met in high school in Homer, Alaska, it wasn’t until McArthur moved to Portland (with the others all joining him across the next year) that Animal Eyes was born. Inspired by Animal Collective and Menomena, the band’s stylistic direction is often unpredictable, incorporating prominent folk and ’00s indie rock influence, but tempering it with a distinctly art-damaged edge. The members all reside in the same home and, save for Matthews, share vocal duties, which contributes to a communal, often familial tone that runs through their music that’s as “Bros” as much as it is Moms. Although it doesn’t have a Bacchanal streak running though it, the nonstop stylistic antics that comprise “Bender” make for just as good of a time. Throwing any trace of traditional pop structure out within the first twenty seconds, leaving room for the band to run wild. Energetic but not spastic, the song sprints in pop, psych rock, and world music directions - all at the same time. Without any boundaries, Animal Eyes use “Bender” to throw anything and everything they can at the wall. Miraculously, it all sticks.

Before heading out on a February-March tour that ends at SXSW, Animal Eyes will play the Sunset Tavern on January 31st with The Magic Mirrors and Eternal Fair. Get tickets and more info on that 21+ show here and keep up with the band on their website and Facebook page. For now, watch the band play “Bender” live below.

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