Eytan Mirsky has been on my radar for over a decade, but thanks to the wonderfully closed shop we call pop radio, he’s probably flying under yours. Then again, you might be familiar with his work by accident – a few of his pop chestnuts have adorned films like American Splendor, Happiness and The Tao of Steve.
Mirsky has four albums out, all good, but if you’re going to start somewhere I suggest his 2000 release Get Ready For Eytan (my original review follows below). And keep an eye – or ear – open for his songs in some of your favorite independent films where this talented man enjoys a broad and diverse career.
New Yorker Eytan Mirsky might be filling up his press kit with clippings about his soundtrack contributions, but if Get Ready For Eytan gets some circulation, the accolades will start flowing in from that as well. In the independent film Happiness, Michael Stipe and Rain Phoenix sing the Mirsky-penned title track, an ironic title for a film centered on so many dysfunctional characters. Mining the same territory, Get Ready is a fourteen track collection of vignettes about unrequited love, betrayal and just plain neurotic romanticism, and if Mirsky isn’t culling notes from his own scrapbook, he’s done a great job of scoping out his behaviorally stumbling peers.
Lyrically funny and straightforward, Mirsky is drawing comparisons to Marshall Crenshaw and Nick Lowe for his clever wordplay and knack for classic pop hooks. But I hear something much more left of center – Michael Shelley, Jonathan Richman and especially Ben Vaughn come to mind time and time again. Why? Well, I’m laughing my ass off at him and feeling sorry for his misfortunes at the same time, like an audio Woody Allen experience. More often than not, the songs find this lovable loser – and who hasn’t uttered this one – looking in the mirror asking “What Did I Do?”. And when he does get lucky, he still gets screwed – like when the girlfriend in “All The Guys You Loved Before” insists upon divulging her past to the cringing Eytan.
“Well I’m not saying / that you’re promiscuous / but did you really have to go / and make a list?”
Mirsky wrote all the songs and sings lead and background vocals; the band is a simple guitar/bass/drums/piano combo that is energetic but not loud, equally effective ripping through surf riffs or steering slow dancers through mid-tempo ballads. Larry Saltzman, in particular, does not let the sparse production prevent him from rocking out when called for (especially on “Record Collection” and “Outta Sight). And just one look at song titles like “Somebody To Blame”, “Allergic To Fun” and “The Vulture Of Love” tells you this is something different and worthwhile. As he sings, his yearning, confusion or misguided superiority (the hilarious “Drop That Loser”) comes across loud and clear even though his style changes as subtly as a facial expression.
Writing this off as quirky pop tunes is unfair. Mirsky is a clever writer with the ability to make the three minute pop song sound new again – no fog machines or lighting trusses necessary.
Visit Eytan’s MySpace site.
Grab some Eytan via CDBaby.