If on a Friday night you find yourself walking past The Pinhook in downtown Durham, you might not even think to step inside. From the street, it looks small and cramped and it isn’t immediately obvious that there’s even a stage within. Many folks likely just consider it a bar. From the inside, though, the bar hosts a small stage with warm lighting— an intimate venue. This past Friday night, you’d have been lucky if you took a chance on it.
The stage hosted Nap Eyes, an alternative indie band based out of Halifax, Nova Scotia. For those who love the Mac DeMarco scene, Nap Eyes offers a similar sound, but with a bit more instrumental influence. Stylistically, you can see the similarities between the two. The stage was full of oversized flannels, rolled up pants and Adidas galore. DeMarco and Nap Eyes have similar vocals, but the latter is definitely more heavily focused on the accompanying instruments.
Frontman Nigel Chapman wooed the audience with his soft, nearly monotone voice while delivering line after line of lyrical wit. While some may find glory in musicians with wide vocal ranges, Chapman proves that a massive range is unnecessary with the incredible use of his small range, paired with excellent instrumentals by the rest of the band. Though still underground, Nap Eyes have been compared to some of the best musicians of all time.
“They’re kind of like Lou Reed,” says music fanatic Spencer Kennedy. “If there was nothing eccentric about him.” There’s no doubt that Nap Eyes has the talent, the lyrics, and the fresh alternative style to put them in the running to be one of the best bands of the decade. Their underground shtick is keeping them small at the moment, but in due time, they have a real shot at making it big.
“They get better as time goes on,” remarked Marina Greenfeld, a UNC Chapel Hill student and audience member. It’s true – several of their top five songs on Spotify are from the new album, “I’m Bad Now.” Could this have something to do with the inclusion of more lively bass beats? It’s a definite possibility. In comparison to the older two albums, it seems that Chapman is becoming more confident in his vocal abilities, and boy does it show.
Joining Nap Eyes on their “I’m Bad” tour as opening acts are Al Riggs and She-Devils, who are personal friends of the band. “It’s good to be on the road with friends,” Chapman remarked between songs. The sense of camaraderie was real on stage Friday night, with all of the acts being visibly supportive of each other during the sets.
In the summer of 2017, Nap Eyes toured as the opener for another smaller alternative band, Car Seat Headrest, on their American tour. Some local attendees have been to both shows. “I saw them open for Car Seat Headrest last summer at Cat’s Cradle and didn’t really know who they were,” Greenfeld further states. “They look a lot different now. He [Chapman] buzzed his hair since then.” A new look accompanies their recently released third album, which is the first to have not been compiled from live recordings.
The new album is similar to the previous two but is more fine-tuned and seemingly self-critical. In several songs on the new album, including “I’m Bad” and “Dull Me Line,” Chapman seems to be feeling down on himself. However, the track “Judgment” shakes things up with optimistic lyrics: “See I don’t believe, I don’t believe, I don’t believe, I don’t believe things are only meant to bring me down.”
Playing some old and some new tracks, Nap Eyes brought a refreshingly down-to-earth presence to the stage Friday night. For any fans of alternative-indie, Nap Eyes envelops all the redeeming qualities of the genre.
All three released albums by Nap Eyes are currently available on Spotify.