The Eisenhowers | Almost half-undressed

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Pop: Power Pop Rock: Acoustic Moods: Type: Lyrical
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Almost half-undressed

by The Eisenhowers

Literate, tuneful and punchy . like Squeeze jamming with Jellyfish in Elvis Costello's front room.
Genre: Pop: Power Pop
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
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1. Useless love
4:15 $0.99
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2. Novelty act
3:47 $0.99
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3. 25 o'clock
4:02 $0.99
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4. ... and consequently
2:35 $0.99
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5. Let's not talk about me
4:01 $0.99
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6. The Abracadabra Man
3:06 $0.99
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7. Jigsaw
3:59 $0.99
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8. If satellites should fall
2:50 $0.99
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9. Mr. and Mrs.Frankenstein
4:41 $0.99
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10. If I had to make a list
2:49 $0.99
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11. Constantinople
2:39 $0.99
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12. Plastic Jesus
4:32 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Focused on the songwriting of Raymond Weir, the first album by Scottish band The Eisenhowers sits comfortably in the adult pop genre. Clearly inspired by the likes of Elvis Costello, Aimee Mann, XTC and Crowded House, ‘Almost half-undressed’ features 12 literate, punchy and often thoughtful songs covering a wide range of topics, including sex, celebrity, love, money, serial killers and even parenthood.

The tunes are mostly direct and guitar-driven, while Weir’s vocals are pitched somewhere between the gutteral Costello (circa ‘Armed Forces’) and the genial Glenn Tilbrook. The arrangements are tight and imaginative, while the production is always punchy and clean. There is a nice balance of light and shade, with plenty of neat harmonies and more catchy choruses than you could shake a stick at.

Like the acts that influence them, The Eisenhowers are lyrically cute and this album exhibits a healthy dose of cynical humour. There are some nice throwaway lines, like “you learn from experience that you don’t learn much from experience” from the marvellous ‘25 o’clock’, a would-be single with loads of musical reference points. Featuring retro synths, a disco bassline, crashing powerchords and harmonies straight out of the Beatles songbook, it’s simply made for radio play.

Several of the songs appear to focus on dysfunctional characters. The creepy ‘Plastic Jesus’ starts with a news story about a weeping religious figurine and ends up with a gun rampage, while ‘Mr. and Mrs. Frankenstein’ features an insane celebrity couple filming a pop video in the jungle, complete with starving natives as the hapless extras.
In a rant worthy of Mr. Costello himself, the song sneers at the dark heart of these showbiz kids corrupted by fame, power and cosmetic surgery. The bizarre guitar motif befits the whole absurdity of the situation: “yes, you can be in my video, but just try not to breathe”. In the acoustic ‘Abracadabra Man’, a sinister politician (described as “another Napoleon” selling snow to Eskimos) goes door-to-door, signing people up for an unholy crusade.

But for all the sardonic vigour, there are some lighter touches too. ‘If I had to make a list’ is a jazzy little song about parenthood which manages to avoid cloying sentimentality, while both the dreamy ‘Useless Love’ and the atmospheric ‘If satellites should fall’ extol the wonders of romantic infatuation, although in the latter, Weir can’t resist a punchline about the star-crossed lover who, when “staring up from solid ground” is inevitably “going to lose his way again”.

According to their press release, this set was compiled from two ‘failed’ album projects. On the evidence of ‘Almost half-undressed’, the next Eisenhowers collection -due in the summer of 2008- promises much.

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Reviews


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Ron Shankland

A Yankee..doodles!
The Truth

Listen..isn't it funny how the best stuff is always in front of you but you don't see it and hardly never hear it!!The Eisenhowers have brought back Brit-pop in their own inimitable style with almost Half-Undressed and your ears deserve to hear it brothers and sisters.
Verbose verbalist and composed compositionist Raymond Weir has served up the best fun and sounds you can hear while wearing somebody elses clothes with this offerring.

The lyrics are both sharp and sensitive to the times and will jangle both your nerves and your unfunny-bones with the acerbic truths they serve up.Try the anti-religious godlike 'Plastic-Jesus' to hear how we truly worship in the post-God age or if you really miss the Beatles chill-out to 'Jigsaw' and 'Novelty Act' then update your wish-list!You have to admire a group who can stand-in McCartney's shoes,peer at a lost generation through Costello's specs and experiment with Brit-pop'sstill cooling corpse!Half-Undressed?-most likely...fully informe?.definitely!Listen..the best stuff is always in front of you and heard first inside somebody else's head-check this out and you won't be disappointed!

The Untruths

The next Eisenhowers CD is out soon available only on microdot and will be available only to well dressed females wearing short skirts and real freckles-get it!
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Donald Bush

Guilty Pleasures
Unashamedly Adult-Oriented Rock, Glasgow’s
Eisenhowers quite clearly don’t care about labels,
and it’s this uninhibited stance which lets them
unashamedly write some actually rather top tunes.
‘Useless Love’, whisper it, sounds VERY like the
Beautiful South. However, there are touches of
Prefab Sprout and Danny Wilson in there too,
and with that, a rather a bigger slice of cred.
'... and consequently’ is a mis-mash of Elvis
Costello and XTC which, unsurprisingly,
works, and that's the pattern for the album, with nods
to Bowie, Travis and the Beatles.
Maybe it is AoR, but The Eisenhowers make for a
guilty pleasure which, if you don’t tell neither, will
we.
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Malcolm Carter

Brilliantly filling the Jellyfish gap
The sound here is simply beautiful. Prefab Sprout immediately came to mind for a reason I couldn’t quite fathom out. Maybe it was the lush sound of the opening song 'Useless Love', maybe it was the glorious melody or maybe it was just simply that it was one of the best pop songs I’ve heard in a long while.
It was no lucky opening shot either, for the following eleven tracks, all written by Raymond Weir (who also plays guitar and keyboards and who -along with Stuart MacLeod- produced the album) are all finely-crafted pop songs with heavenly melodies, stunning harmonies and first class playing from all the musicians involved.
There are a good few bands currently looking back to the 70's for inspiration and who produce good melodic pop songs; The Feeling come immediately to mind and The Eisenhowers follow much the same musical route, albeit with a little more grit and a lot more humour.
It’s one of those albums where it takes no time at all to become familiar with the songs. One gets the feeling that they have been around and played on the radio for what seems like ages, but not annoyingly so. The songs are extremely catchy but in the same way that the songs of Jellyfish and Squeeze were catchy. I’m well aware that those comparisons have been made time and again, but for once they are spot on.
The album was recorded in Glasgow (which is where the band hail from) but the music made by The Eisenhowers knows no boundaries. It could have been made in America, Scandinavia or almost anywhere.
Weir’s vocals are particularly strong. He can switch from gentle to strong, and at times does so within the same song with apparent ease; his are the type of vocals one feels comfortable with immediately.
There is not a dull or dud song on the album. Weir is obviously extremely talented at creating memorable pop songs of a very high quality and it would take very few radio plays of any of these twelve songs to get the band noticed. The songs really are that instant. ‘…And Consequently’ is currently the favourite around these parts. The chorus really is one of those ‘once heard never forgotten’ moments and the guitar solo really is something else.
Jellyfish are sorely missed and in The Eisenhowers we have found a band more than capable of filling the gap they made when they split. This album is highly recommended to all lovers of good, solid pop music and the best of its kind to emerge in a very long time.
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Mike Bennett

This band makes glistening music!
Ornate power pop in the vein of The Tories, Jellyfish, and Doug Powell. The Tories is the best comparison, because this band makes glistening music, but doesn't pile on lots of production tricks. This is a style that can grate when it becomes too pristine or precious. Like the best music from The Tories, The Eisenhowers avoid this, due in part to sharp observational lyrics (meaning their music isn't just an exercise in sounding good) and having some muscle underneath the sheen.

These qualities are displayed to good effect on ‘Mr. and Mrs. Frankenstein’. The song works a sinister pop melody, with an ominous psych-pop vibe in the verses and an instantly memorable chorus. There are also some cutting lyrics, for example, "money talks and we understand it."
One song (‘Jigsaw’) has a nice Beatles gloss on it, with some George Harrison-like slide guitar that augments the basic Eisenhowers approach. That is, everything fits within the Jellyfish template, but other elements are added, like the underlying dance music rhythm (think Squeeze's ‘Cool For Cats’) in the inspired chorus. Inspired is a good word to describe this disc as a whole, and the inspiration is backed up by strong committed performances.
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Ray Shankland

Fanboy
Almost Half-undressed goes way beyond the Costello and Squeeze-Mann comparisons and deserves more than a cursory first listening for a proper review of the heights it actually hits and 'hits' is the KEY ord here ,folks!'Novelty Act' is a tongue-in-someone-elses-cheek song with cracking lyrics and a hook you would die for while
Jigsaw fulfills the promises of the opening lines in a never-to-be-forgotten chorus that will have you singing in your sleep.The playing and the singing have a brilliant sympathy all through this recording and the cutting wit of 'Plastic Jesus'should empty most churches in double-quick time if played before the collection plate comes round-who needs 'religion' when true wsidom is conquered by true with and meaningful insight into the moral-free society.Bury your pets and relatives to these keenly-crafted tunes and then look forawrd to living happilly never after with a smile on your face.More of the same please with plenty of vitamins on the lyrics.

Dare you to buy it!
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Matt McGowan

The best songs we have heard in a long time
Way back in the early eighties, pop music was in confusion. Style had triumphed over substance and quality song writing was fighting a rearguard action in the once glorious battlefield of the charts. The mighty generals of this army were Squeeze and Elvis Costello. Their output from this time never received the commercial success that it should have. It is a compliment indeed to say that this album from the Eisenhowers can be considered alongside the best produced by the aforementioned artists.
It contains some of the best songs we have heard in a long time.
"Mr and Mrs Frankenstein" has a sixties feel, reminiscent of the Kinks. "If I Had to Make a List" is sugar candy coated Elvis Costello. "Plastic Jesus" gives us a sharp commentary on the emptiness of modern life, while "Novelty Act" could stand alongside Squeeze's "Tempted" and provides the highlight of the album.

All the twelve songs are from the pen of Raymond Weir and the quality is remarkably consistent. It has been said that songwriters are the only commentators left on our society. Nobody reads anymore and nobody believes what they see. All we have left to trust is the songs that reach our ears. Immaculate musicianship makes this an easy listen but it is the intelligent lyrics that give it the depth to ensure longevity on the CD player. BluesBunny is impressed. Very impressed!
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Jon Clarkson

Perfectly judged ... great songwriting
This Glasgow-based group show no shame in revealing their influences of Elvis Costello, Aimee Mann and XTC and so they shouldn't. Even their album title, with its thinly-veiled acknowledgement of Jellyfish, is an open and honest acceptance of the artists who informed their sound. Good job then, that their own brand of literate pop/rock music is up to scratch. Superior songs such as '...And Consequently' and 'Useless Love' suggest a Scottish Squeeze, the doleful 'If I Had To Make A List' crosses Costello with Lloyd Cole whilst 'Jigsaw' is an excellent example of their sophisticated power pop. Even their slower-paced material ('Abracadabra Man', 'If Satellites Should Fall', 'Plastic Jesus') is perfectly judged and adds new layers of maturity and depth to their already impressive oeuvre. Rather than an exercise in rewriting other groups' ideas, 'Almost Half Undressed' is a lesson in great songwriting that can more than stand up on its own two feet.
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Aaron Kupferberg

Great choruses, biting lyrics and some amazing guitar work.
On the Eisenhowers site they mention that they are "a loose collection of people who sometimes make a noise with musical instruments." Well, if lots of neat harmonies and catchy guitar riffs are noise, then bring it on. Raymond Weir, primary force for the band, does a great job here. ‘Useless Love’ is a low-key rocker that reminds me of a lost Dream Academy track, while ‘Novelty Act’ is a flat-out great song that evokes Crowded House; it has a great chorus, biting lyrics and some amazing guitar. ‘Jigsaw’ is another song with some great hooks … it recalls the best singles of The Rembrandts. ‘If Satellites Should Fall’ has a beautiful arrangement and flows along like a lazy river. Little influences of Squeeze, Elvis Costello and XTC appear in all sorts of places, so this will not disappoint most powerpop or AOR fans. You should enjoy this one!
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Colin Meeks

Great melodies and vocals
I receive a huge number of CD's in the mail, but it's only while reviewing this album that I realized that I receive a large proportion of CD's from Scottish bands, which given the comparative size of Scotland, is pretty amazing. I don't know what's stimulating this creative juice, but I don't care, stimulate away.
Whilst you may not have heard of the Eisenhowers, Raymond Weir's other band -Gum- may be more familiar. This offering has an altogether different flavor, but you can almost detect the common thread between the two bands.
Between Gum and the Eisenhowers, it's amazing that Raymond has time to do anything else. If all his other ventures are as well put together as this one, then the future does indeed look interesting.
This 12 track CD opens with "Useless Love", which is wonderfully laid back, with an almost jazz flavor. The next track "Novelty Act" has an altogether more contemporary feel and is more representative of the rest of the album. 25 o'Clock reminds me a lot of Nik Kershaw's later works. It's that great balance of upbeat music, great lyrics and excellent delivery. Anyway I think you get my drift. If I had to pick a favorite track it would be a toss up between "If Satellites Should Fall" and the track that rounds off the album, "Plastic Jesus".
Conclusion : A great album with a real upbeat sound. Great melodies and vocals.
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J. Sin

Provocative and melodic pop hooks
Often overlooked as one of the United States’ greater presidents (and hey I’m a liberal!), The Eisenhowers might share a similar name to the late great but they’re way more provocative. Melodic vocals and tender guitar rock strum away gently with breezy choruses rocking you back and forth like a small sailing boat on a great ocean. Their songs are fused with character-building pop hooks and they manage to conjure an image of Elvis Costello without going overboard. Adult contemporary pop-rock that is fun for a pub and fun for a small get-together as well makes this Glasgow pop act one that is essential to follow.
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