By: Donnie Hanway
Led by Dan Auerbach of The Arcs and the Black Keys, Easy Eye Sound is a burgeoning label out of Nashville, TN that is home to a wide variety of musical stylings, all brought together by Auerbach’s increasingly well placed personal touches out of the production booth. With each new record, it seems like he gets a better feel for what will work for every artist that walks through the door.
Releases In The Last Year:
Zella Day – Where Does The Devil Hide (8/28/20)
Many compare Zella Day to Lana Del Rey, given their vocal similarities and connection to Dan Auerbach as a producer (Auerbach produced LDR’s 2014 album, Ultraviolence), this comparison makes sense. However, Day ventures further into the alternate country and psychedelic realms compared to Del Rey, and Where Does The Devil Hide is no exception.
CeeLo Green – CeeLo Green Is Thomas Callaway (6/26/20)
Given his work with Brian Burton/Danger Mouse on Gnarls Barkley in the mid/the late-2000s and his incredibly popular solo work in the early 2010s, it is fair to call CeeLo Green a music renaissance man after his latest work with Easy Eye Sound. With a rich tone and effortless vocals, CeeLo Green Is Thomas Callaway was one of the highlights of the year.
John Anderson – Years (4/10/20)
It’s clear from the early tracks on Years that country icon John Anderson has not lost a step, although he spends much of the album looking back at his 40-year career, every song on the record sounds fresh and authentic.
Early James – Singing For My Supper (3/13/20)
Leading with a gravelly voice, James brought a fantastic sound that drew from the Americana, blues, folk, and alternative country music scenes early in 2020. “Blue Pill Blues” is one of the better singles coming out of that collection of genres this year.
Marcus King – El Dorado (1/17/20)
Moving seamlessly from country to rock to blues to soul throughout the album, Marcus King’s world-class singing is one of the musical highlights of the year. As previously stated, King’s work draws from several influences, and the Otis Redding influenced, “Wildflowers & Wine” is certainly a notable single.
Aaron Frazer – Introducing (1/8/21)
Drummer and sometime lead singer of noted soul outfit Durand Jones & The Indications, Frazer’s unique falsetto will be a fixture on the music scene for a long time, with lead and follow-up singles, “Bad News” and “Over You”, January 8th should be marked on many calendars.
Other Notable Artists:
Yola released Walk Through Fire in early 2019 to critical appraise, her rich and operatic voice carries over the instrumentals which range in tone from country to folk and soul. A member of the female country supergroup, The Highwomen, her star will only continue to rise.
Dee White is a rising country artist who has a similarly smooth southern drawl to labelmate, and country legend, John Anderson. Essentially appearing out of thin air to record his debut album, Southern Gentleman. White breathes life into a genre that has lacked an authentic, fresh sound for awhile.
Shannon & The Clams, out of Oakland, CA, and packing a retro-psychedelic sound headlined by the vocal harmonizations of singer Shannon Shaw, who released her solo album with Easy Eye in 2018 and guitarist Cody Blanchard, the group brings it at live shows as well, often covering the similarly styled Jefferson Airplane.
Robert Finley recorded Goin’ Platinum! with EES in 2017, highlighted by Finley’s electric voice, he won over the judges of America’s Got Talent with his song “Medicine Woman”.
Mixing bluegrass and contemporary country, the Gibson Brothers have been around and touring since the mid-1980s, their label debut released in 2018 and included a cover of the R.E.M hit “Everybody Hurts”.
Jimmy “Duck” Holmes and Leo “Bud” Welch are two old school delta blues artists who Auerbach was more than happy to share the studio with. Both artists bring a soulfulness to music which simply cannot be taught or replicated.
Noted country songwriter Kendall Marvel had his own release in 2019, drawing on the outlaw country sound of the 1970s, Marvel’s voice flows over the well-rounded instrumentals with a similar vocal timbre to that of Waylon Jennings or even John Anderson.
Sonny Smith’s 2019 record, Rod For Your Love, draws on the influence of 60s pop and works in cohesion with Smith’s lyrical eccentricity. The album even includes a duet with KCOU favorite, Angel Olsen (“Burnin’ Up”).
Link Wray was a key part of the first generation of rock with his song, “Rumble”, Easy Eye Sound released some of his previously unreleased work including the follow-up to “Rumble”, aptly titled, “Son of Rumble”.
Dan Auerbach and the Black Keys have gone about producing and releasing their work since 2017 with Waiting On A Song from Auerbach and then in 2019 with “Let’s Rock!” from the duo of Auerbach and drummer Pat Carney.
With a mixture of up and coming artists like Yola, Aaron Frazer, Zella Day, and Dee White in the fold along with seasoned industry standouts like CeeLo Green and John Anderson, Easy Eye Sound has built a strong foundation and group of musicians to build off of in the coming years.