When listening to Eisley's new album Combinations, it doesn't take long to hear why the Tyler, Texas, quintet has earned such ardent fans. In the first minute of the album's opener - the rock-oriented "Many Funerals" - sisters and vocalists Stacy and Sherri DuPree trade lines and harmonize with a beauty unique in modern music, as the guitars and drums carry the song along.
Building on the success of their lauded debut Room Noises, the guitar-driven Combinations is a diverse collection of songs that nevertheless fit comfortably together. The lyrics shift effortlessly from romantic to quirky ("Invasion" even involves an alien takeover), but always keep the listener fixated on the track at hand.
But where Room Noises contained a mix of new songs and re-recorded older tunes, Combinations is the band's first full-length of all new material. "It was exhilarating for us to have an opportunity to start from scratch," Stacy says. "We were excited to start writing this record and, because of that energy, we wrote a lot of the songs very quickly."
When the band weave their winsome harmonies and melodies with layered guitar tones and Weston DuPree's orotund drum beats, images of Fleetwood Mac and Wings-era Paul McCartney immediately come to mind, particularly on songs like "Come Clean" and "A Sight to Behold". Then there are "Many Funerals" and "Invasion", which may be familiar to fans as both tracks have been included in the band's live sets. Each found new life in the studio alongside the country-infused "10 Cent Blues" and ballads like the title track.
When it came time for the group - sisters Chauntelle (25), Sherri (23) and Stacy (18), their brother Weston (21), and their cousin Garron (17) - to record, the quintet turned to noted composer and producer Richard Gibbs, who has not only produced and collaborated with Korn, but has also scored such films as Queen of the Damned and the Battlestar Galactica miniseries.
"We wanted to work with someone who had a fresh perspective on how to record our band," Sherri says. "We thought that someone who understood the film world would be able to bring a stronger symphonic feel to our songs." The band settled in with Gibbs for two months at his Woodshed Studios, tracking amidst the bucolic background of Malibu, California. For the sessions, Gibbs also recruited respected engineer Czaba Petozc (Metallica, Stevie Nicks, Frank Sinatra) and longtime collaborator George Doering, who added a wealth of left-of-centre instrumentation to the proceedings.
With the new album is done, Eisley hit the road for an extended tour the fall of 2007. During the last few years, the band has shared stages with Taking Back Sunday, Coldplay, New Found Glory, and Snow Patrol, winning over new fans at every stop, a trend likely to continue with a summer slot opening for the Fray and festival trips abroad. Eisley appears ready for great things for 2008.
Chauntelle DuPree: Guitar
Sherri DuPree-Gilbert: Vocals/Guitar
Weston DuPree: Drums
Stacy DuPree: Vocals/Piano
Garron DuPree: Bass