Cymbals Eat Guitars - "Lenses Alien"

Despite the fact that they’re really young, Staten Island indie rockers Cymbals Eat Guitars are already the masters of grandiose, guitar-driven rock. On their new LP, Lenses Alien, they push it a little further into a bigger, bolder direction. Take “Rifle Eyesight (Proper Name),” for example. Or “Definite Darkness.” Lead singer Joseph D’Agostino and bassist Matthew Whipple recently took some time out to select some songs that they felt had a particular impact on Lenses Alien, so without further ado, here’s Cymbals Eat Guitars’ edition of Under The Influence.


1. Cat Power – “Nude as the News”
“Do not make sexless dude-rock. Do not make sexless dude-rock. Do not make sexless dude-rock.”

2. Wilco – “Cars Can’t Escape”
Whenever we’re belaboring a point or arguing over an infinitesimal detail in the studio, either Whipple or I will break the ice by going “gung-gung gah-gah gah gung-gung gah-gah guh-GAH”  (from the most awkwardly affecting moment in the “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart” doc). Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is still my favorite album ever. Summer Teeth is up there too… I guess I prefer Pillco. Brian (HAMILTON) claims to dislike Wilco even though most every part he writes kinda sounds Wilco-y. Before we lay anything to tape I make a point of watching “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart”. So many quotables!!  “If you sign HER ass…”

3. Pixies – “Tame”
My thought process for the vocals on the new record was basically like, I’m gonna limit myself to two cyberdemon howls, one ending each side of the record — y’know, to keep it fresh. Black Francis doesn’t have to worry about stuff like that though. No. He. Does. Not. I love the sexy/creepy/deranged breakdown where it sounds like Kim and Frank are approaching orgasm together. But imagine someone screaming in your ear like THAT when they come? Terrifying.

4. Deerhunter – “Revival”
I’ve been a big Deerhunter fan for some years now. I saw them at the Bowery for Cryptograms and at the First Unitarian Church in Philly for Microcastle, when they had the cheerleader guitarist. Those shows were pretty O.K., but it wasn’t until I saw them this past October at the Starlight in Philly that I really came to appreciate how profoundly great they are. Easily one of my top 5 shows ever, up there with My Bloody Valentine at the Roseland, Wilco at the Starland Ballroom, Yo La Tengo at the Loew’s Theater in Jersey City, and the Wrens at Unitarian Church. So swirling and melodic and piercingly loud and propulsive and immersive…this show made me switch from Fender twins to Marshall stacks. And Bradford Cox is the consummate showman, magnetic and charismatic. I aspire to someday be as great as these guys.

5. The Wrens/ Charles Bissell – “I Guess We’re Done”
The Meadowlands, Secaucus, and Abbott 1135 changed my life forever. Charles (singer/ guitarist for the Wrens) mentored me as I was piecing together Why There Are Mountains, and played a huge role in my development as a songwriter. Finally getting to share the stage with him last January was a huge deal for me. He was gracious enough to join us on a benefit bill for The Project Matters at Maxwell’s of Hoboken. It was an unforgettable night. In this video, you can probably hear me filling in Kevin Whelan’s absent high harmonies. Seeing Charles nail all those notes at the top of his register really inspired me to do some SINGING on Lenses Alien


1. The Lines – “The Landing”
This song has a measured, stretched out vibe that is something we sought to capture at certain points on this record. It also has some neat atmospheric stuff that builds very patiently, which is also something we were really into. We wanted to still play with dynamics, but in subtler ways than on our last record, and to try out a wider range of possibilities.

2. Sonic Youth – “Reena”
We love Sonic Youth, particularly the stuff they’ve done with John Agnello, who produced our record. The guitar sounds on Rather Ripped were one of the first things we all agreed upon and enthused about when we first started talking about working with him. Shout out to Uncle John!

3. Spiritualized – “Come Together”
Spiritualized and Spacemen 3 heavily informed a lot of the swirling, heavy-instrumentation parts of the record. On the first record, a lot of that stuff was pretty much all about the guitar…layer-upon-layer of guitar parts for a very My Bloody Valentine type of sound. With this record we wanted to make it less about the guitar and more about the total sound that we could all create together. 

Spiritualized – Come Together by scootaway

4. Fleetwood Mac – “Dreams”
There were a couple of moments on this record where we wanted the song or the particular part in question to have this sort of bounce to it, and we always articulated that by referencing Fleetwood Mac. We’re big fans. Everyone should be.

5. Bear In Heaven – “Dust Cloud”
We became pretty tight with these guys on tour last year, and this song in particular became an almost-nightly ritual on that tour. Stop what you’re doing, get near the stage, and be completely blown away for a minute. It also has that patient vibe we wanted to go for with this record, where it’s about building tension with an expected but still thrilling and surprising release. Matt Miller definitely developed some of his beat ideas for the ending of ’Rifle Eyesight (Proper Name)’ from this jam. We would follow Bear In Heaven to the ends of the earth, basically.

Comments (20)
  1. ddogdunit  |   Posted on Sep 1st, 2011 -8

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

    • Surprised there’s no Pavement/Built to Spill in there, but really, what are you saying? Wilco, the Pixies, Cat Power are all great – which is why so many people cite them as influences. I wasn’t a fan of the debut, but Lenses Alien is seriously great – whether or not you agree with this sentiment, you should probably get off of your high horse and accept the fact that bands are usually influenced by other great bands, not always some obscure group that’s probably obscure because they suck.

    • Would you have felt better if they referenced some heady unknown captured tracks dogshit that you have to find in limited quantities at the local image-over-content record shop? If so, sniff dicks.

  2. Why isn’t every YouTube video a different Pavement song?

  3. ddogdunit  |   Posted on Sep 1st, 2011 -6

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

    • why is it frustrating? I don’t really get your point because it seems to be buried in your pretentiousness. YHF is a classic and is part of their influences what is wrong with that?

    • Dog, I’m not really sure you’re getting the point of this series. They are not “these are my favorite bands right now” articles – they’re “these are the bands that most heavily influenced the album you’re listening to” articles. If you don’t like CEG or you think their influences are too generic, well then gee, don’t listen to the album, but don’t fault them for being honest about their influences. I’d be more annoyed if they pointed to some obscure bands just to prove that they’re hip. If your point is that they’re citing Wilco and The Pixies to BE hip, then I think you’re just assuming that because you don’t like them – after all, no one ever says “we were influenced by this band Wilco, you probably wouldn’t know them, but they’re great.” Ok, I’m done.

  4. Hartford nailed it. Newsflash – most bands are just cool dudes like most of us that read Stereogum, except they are more committed to actually being in music. Thus, they like the same great bands we like. Some bands are meant to stay under the radar (because they just aren’t good enough to be popular/widely known).

  5. They were going to reference Pavement and Built to Spill but that would’ve been as unnecessary as saying Oasis was into the Beatles and the Stones.

  6. ddogdunit  |   Posted on Sep 1st, 2011 -1


    you didn’t critically argue with me at all, ya just called me pretentious and asked me “what’s wrong” with him listing the influences: if you want to know what’s wrong, read my earlier comment.

    “Some bands are meant to stay under the radar (because they just aren’t good enough to be popular/widely known).”

    i’m not even going to address (aw, shit) the stupidity of this statement. are you actually saying bands “under the radar” are “under the radar” for a reason, i.e. they aren’t good enough? so the velvets had 0 popularity in the late 60s because they were bad? i may be being a dick, but you’re just being ignorant.

    • Do you know there are “reply” buttons on this site? They work, also.

    • a) by the velvets do you mean the early 60s doo wop group, or the velvet underground? (i assume you mean velvet underground but since you’re SO INTO obscure bands getting their due, i’d better check)
      b) if it is the velvet underground, you are aware that literally thousands of musicians have cited the velvet underground as influences, right?
      If you want someone to argue with you ‘critically’, first let me echo the sentiment that these widely known bands are widely known for a reason: they’re really good. There were ten bands listed here and you only have an axe to grind about the more ‘popular’ ones.
      Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but you didn’t leave us much substance to argue with you about ‘critically’, except that you don’t like Cymbals Eat Guitars and are kind of being a hater-ish dick and seem to think that maybe musicians should spend hours digging through obscure bands who may or may not suck so they can share their scholarly knowledge with the world on Stereogum instead of making music that at least some people enjoy, myself included.

      • ddogdunit  |   Posted on Nov 29th, 2011 -1

        just seeing this now.

        a) good dig! well, since i said late 60s and not early 60s, you assumed correct that i meant the velvet underground when i used their COMMON nickname (see even on the wikipedia page) ‘the velvet’s! yr not gonna out-dick me, don’t even try.

        b) if you paid attention to what i wrote, i’m going against hartfordthewhale’s silly comment that a group is “obscure group that’s probably obscure because they suck”. which you agree is silly, no?

        c) the VU are influential, duh! did you read my comment and see that i said that they had “0 popularity IN THE LATE 60s?”

        d) i never argued that a band is bad because they are popular. not once. read my other comments.

  7. ddogdunit  |   Posted on Sep 1st, 2011 -2

    all i’m saying is that when my favorite bands do these silly “who do you like???” features, GOOD bands will name artists A LITTLE (doesn’t have to be mega-obscure) off the beaten path. see: beck covering skip spence (like I said, A LITTLE off the beaten path, moby grape is not mega-obscure), or perhaps pavement repping the fall, etc etc etc.

    and it’s just a testament to how much of a shit sandwich CEG is that all they can do is blather about wilco when they get a chance to talk about some fresh, interesting music, not fucking wilco, because we blog readers get enough wilco. but you know, all CEG fans are probably as bland as the dudes in the band, so whatever. maybe they like the beatles too.

    • We get it. You don’t like Cymbals Eat Guitars.

      • You should have given them your email so they could have consulted you about their influences before writing this piece for Stereogum.

        • This is called “Under The Influence”, as in name the bands that influenced them. What’s the point in name checking some small band when it didn’t influence them? It’s great spreading the word, but it’s irrelevant if they didn’t INFLUENCE THE BAND.

          And since when did it suck when people listened to bands like Pixies, Sonic Youth, and Wilco?They’re young and have plenty of time to find and listen to bands that fit your criteria of what is worthy.

  8. I would also follow Bear In Heaven to the ends of of the earth.

  9. Why do people complain about what’s not there instead of praising what is? There is some fantastic stuff here from Sonic Youth, The Lines, and the Pixies. Enjoy what you have, my fellow glass half empty friends.

    Dear Haters:
    You can’t include everythign that is awesome or this page would go on forever!


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