It was on a sunny afternoon at the Doe Bay Festival on Orcas Island, Washington when I discovered Animal Eyes. They were sandwiched between multiple good acts, and often bands that played in that time slot were forgotten in the mix of so much good talent. But Animals Eyes stuck out to me. I watched and listened with my friends, after each song grinning from ear to ear. These guys were really good. After one song that sounded particularly great, bassist and vocalist Colin McArthur announced, “That was a new one we haven’t released yet called Mushroom Hunter.”
“Mushroom Hunter,” I repeated to myself. I had to own it the second it became available.
The song stuck with me for good reason: it thoughtfully blended melodic indie-rock verses with a crazy-unique vocal harmony leading into each chorus. It was an infectious, modern sound that instantly stuck out.
Animal Eyes is a five-piece band based in Portland, Oregon, but the five of them actually hail from Homer, Alaska. All friends from high school, the group realized that they were all looking for something to do after graduating high school, and before long, all had moved down to the lower 48 to start a band. A large part of the band’s distinct sound comes from their three vocalists, each having a certain quality to their voice. Accordionist Sam Tenhoff’s in particular is powerful, verging on theatrical at times. The accordion only adds to the uniqueness of the band’s sound.
Animal Eyes’ latest EP, Ursus, was released a few months ago. Here’s the track “Cold Coast Line”:
After diving into their catalog, I was really excited. These guys sounded a lot like one of my favorite bands, Portland indie-rockers Menomena. So it was no surprise when the band was written up in Willamette Week, where it’s told that the band’s early years were jumpstarted after hearing Menomena’s second LP, Friend and Foe – my declared “favorite album” for a few years now. I was giddy. It all made sense.
And as for “Mushroom Hunter”?
— Animal Eyes (@AnimalEyesBand) August 14, 2013
Soon after I tweeted at them, a demo of the track was put up on SoundCloud for the world to hear. It’s just as good as I remember it.