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Eskimeaux,”O.k.” (Everything Inbe-ZINE issue 1)

By Entertainment

“I know we’d hang out every day/ if I wasn’t 100 miles away.”  This lyric from Eskimeaux’s “Broken Necks” likes to echo in my head. According to google maps, Grand Rapids, Michigan (my current location) is exactly 179 miles away from Chicago. There’s no music at my current place of work, the radio broke nineteen days ago. Thus, the album that I blast during the fifteen minute drive to work serves as a minuscule boost of morale. Currently, Eskimeaux’s debut album, “O.K. has served as a bright spot amidst minimum wage mundanity.

Hailing from Brooklyn, New York, Eskimeaux is the brainchild of vocalist Gabby Smith who is also part of Frankie Cosmos. Smith’s lyrics possess a gentle, precise poetry that reads like a diary entry. They are devoid of pretensions or musical gimmicks resulting in an earnest, rolicking album.

Illustration/comic by Eskimeaux's Gabby Smith.

Illustration/comic by Eskimeaux’s Gabby Smith.

Every song exists happily as a stand alone track but they also work together to form a meticulously curated record. This is refreshing. Although I love pop music, I often get the sense that larger record labels now view records as a collection of potential singles rather than a cohesive entity.

These songs can keep you company. They are catchy with ‘80s synths but they are also snug and echo in your head while you ring up grumpy people’s purchases.  Each track exists as a micro narrative — peering into aspects of everyday life that aren’t often expressed musically. Yes, there are love songs but this album also serves as an examination into the intricacies of friendship, taking time to point out that the friends we allow into our lives are just as important as the lovers.

“Broken Necks” plays on how draining it can be to attempt to protect your friends.  The chorus quips, “While you were breaking your neck trying to keep your head up/ I was breaking my neck just to stick it out for you.” It’s a song about how friendships take work and sometimes you have to let friends go, but that doesn’t mean you should give up on forging human connections. The last line is “nothing in this world is holier than friendship,” and I think that’s really fantastic because so much of the musical narrative focuses on romantic love and sometimes moves all the other important relationships in our lives to the sideline.

This record is full of potential. The band’s ability to make massively sprawling, consuming tracks is evident in “The Thunder Answered Back.”  Wherein Smith croons, “you spiderweb, you dance of death,” beneath relentless drums and sprawling guitar. Eventually, Smith starts to scream, “you coward/ you hummingbird,” and it’s full of this poetic concentrated fury that imbues you as a listener with your own sense of power. It’s a song that reminds you that you’re a physical entity on this earth, an actual person rather than scraps of khakis and snail buns. I like to listen to it while I’m on my lunch break, I turn the volume all the way up and scream “you COWARD/ you HUMMINGBIRD.”

The next track, “Alone at the Party” is a real bedroom jam, full of jangly guitar and pounding drums. It almost rushes the album a little bit, since the following track, “Pocket Full of Posies,” is an eerie ballad with the intensity of a My Bloody Valentine deep cut. At the same time, the track listing illustrates the dichotomy which Smith grapples with as a lyricist. Her lyrics are haunting and jubilant, and no matter the sentiment, they are propelled with an equal intensity. It takes a lot of power as a writer to examine joy with the same ferocity as misery.

I saw Eskimeaux live at the Pyramid Scheme in Michigan a couple of days ago alongside Elvis Depressedly, Mitski, and Wayne Szalinski. The Pyramid Scheme is a tiny venue with orange and blue chevron tile floors that seem to be riffing off of David Lynch. It’s got pinball machines and PBR on tap so it vibes quite well with the lyrics of “Alone at the Party” which include lines like,  “while we danced/ at the show/ still holding our bags and coats.”

Onstage, Smith was bursting with energy wearing a worn oversized T-shirt and her hair in a high ponytail. She talked about eating at Stella’s lounge down the street, and performed synchronized dance moves with her band members. Her excitement never waned despite being perched on a tiny stage in front of an equally tiny crowd. There had to be less than twenty people on the floor, but that didn’t faze Smith. She still smiled and joked and seemed happy to be here, in this tiny pit stop to Chicago. A lot of times when bands come to Grand Rapids, they inevitably treat it as a sidenote to a bigger city (Chicago/ Detroit.) Smith was simply excited to be here, in this tiny overly-air conditioned club singing her songs for high schoolers and maybe a couple of parents at the bar.

It might as well have been a house show at a basement in Humboldt park. I felt at home for the first time since I left Chicago. My body relished in the bass lines and the proximity to amps and the gentle nudges from sweaty shoulders of strangers.

My favorite part of the record is how it explores the many facets of what it means to be okay. Music likes to concentrate on the highs and the lows and they sort of skip over the interludes — the bits that are required to build up to the grandiose. It’s a record for in-betweens, it’ll hang with you while you’re in between jobs and apartments, remind you that sometimes it’s okay to be just o.k.


Everything Inbe-ZINE serves as both a tribute to zine culture and a prize in the cereal box that is F Newsmagazine. With every column, there will be a subsequent mini zine PDF . There’s a free download so you can  print it on a piece of printer paper (8.5×11) and fold it to start a zine library of your own. {You can download the first issue HERE}

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