Eytan Mirsky is a New York-based pop-rock performer best known for writing the title songs for the films "American Splendor," "The Tao of Steve," and "Happiness." "Everyone's Having Fun Tonight!" is his fourth album. Try one and you'll have to have them all!
Adding to the fun on "Everyone's Having Fun Tonight!" is a great roster of musicians that includes Larry Saltzman, Jon Gordon and Andy Snitzer. Larry Saltzman, a top studio guitarist in NYC, is perhaps best known for his contributions to the recent Simon and Garfunkel reunion tour and also for his work with David Johansen and the Harry Smiths. Jon Gordon, who produced "Everyone's Having Fun Tonight!" and plays a variety of instruments on the disc, is best known for his years as lead guitarist for Suzanne Vega (most notably on her hit "Luka"). And Andy Snitzer, who's played sax with everyone from the Stones to Paul Simon to Bob Dylan to Al Green, dropped into the studio for a guest spot on the title track.
Scroll down to read reviews from the following:
EXPRESSEN (#1 Swedish Daily newspaper)
INK19 (webzine: www.ink19.com)
BUCKETFULL OF BRAINS (UK magazine)
THE HIPPO (New Hampshire newspaper)
OX (German magazine)
"Everyone's Having Fun Tonight!" (M-Squared Records)
* * * * (4 stars out of 5)
He is best known for having written the themes to films like "Happiness" and "American Splendor." Both are included here. But Eytan Mirsky's extreme feel for melody paired with an equally extreme bitterness and cynicism has resulted in many more small dyspeptic masterpieces. Like "She's Looking Better" about how she (an ex) gets better looking after a breakup. Everyone's Having Fun Tonight is the perfect power-pop soundtrack for when you are angry and stomping around in the snow, pissed off that life is full of obstacles and...work.
- Klas Ericsson
from POPMATTERS and FUFKIN.COM:
"Everyone's Having Fun Tonight!"
If the third time's the charm, what is the fourth? If you're Eytan Mirsky, and we're talking about his fourth studio release, then it's even more charm. "Everyone's Having Fun Tonight!" continues in the fine tradition of 2001's "Was It Something I Said?" and serves up 16 fine tracks of the sort of instantly accessible charm-pop that Mirsky is known for.
On this new collection, the songs remain bouncy and infectious, the delivery comfortable and confident, as Mirsky has grown in stature through having his music placed in films. An alumnus of NYU's Graduate Film School (and an excellent film editor in his own right), singer/songwriter Mirsky placed two songs in Jeniphr Goodman's "The Tao of Steve." Todd Solondz' "Happiness" featured Michael Stipe singing Mirsky's song of the same name (the Mirsky version appears on this new CD).
More recently, Mirsky appeared in and sang the title song in the critically acclaimed Harvey Pekar biopic "American Splendor" (that song is here as well). Mirsky's streak of song placement will continue in Robert Altman's "The Company," as well as in Todd Solondz' "Palindromes" (scheduled for theatrical release in 2005).
For the latest disc, Mirsky again teams up with guitarists Jon Gordon (former lead guitarist and arranger for Suzanne Vega) and Larry Saltzman (who was seen and heard playing guitar and other instruments in the 2003-2004 Simon and Garfunkel Reunion tour band). Most of the tracks feature drums by Warren Odze (or by Vin Scialla otherwise). Gordon produced, mixed and mastered the CD as well, keeping the sounds masterfully clean.
The opening track (sounding vaguely reminiscent of the old new wave band The Jags' song "Back of My Hand") is called "She's Looking Better," and features a rip-roaring harmonica solo by Jason Rosen. The lyrics tell a variant of the "grass is always greener" tale, about a girl who is prettier than anything he's ever seen now that she's no longer his, a most believable irony.
"Why Does It Have To Be That Way?" is a cute ditty about a self-absorbed someone who manages to not get too involved with religion or politics, per se, yet gets philosophical over a more personal issue: "I never stop to question the pain the world lives under / but when I see you out with him I cannot help but wonder / Why does it have to be that way?"
Mirsky also explores the converse situation in the uber-catchy "If You Wanna Save The World" (written for, but not included in, another film). Here's a guy who doesn't have time to play, but he's ready to join up if you're fixing to save the world: "Hey, if you wanna waste your time / well, that's just fine with me / but I feel like saving humanity."
The title track has sort of a retro, Sam Cooke standard feel to it. There's the buzz of a party about the chorus, reflecting the global celebration that seems to include everyone except poor Eytan. This lovable outsider stance is familiar from past songs, and has almost become the Mirsky trademark.
It's in evidence here in the winsome song "Bad Bad Luck," wherein the hapless pursuer of a date is sincerely given every excuse in the book and then some. A look of rejection is the topic matter of "Don't Gimme That Look," portrayed as the "cruelest form of punishment that the world has ever known" in a song that's a distant musical relative of The Monkees' "Last Train To Clarksville."
Used to this constant rejection, what would happen to a guy who suddenly finds himself accepted? Mirsky gives us the answer with "What's Wrong With You?" believing there must be something wrong with this woman, for her to fall for him.
When you hear the soundtrack songs, there's no denying their catchiness. "Happiness" is spilling over with pop ebullience, a musical search for that elusive quality. "American Splendor" is more of a quiet affair, the kind of simple vocal and guitar performance you'd get in a coffeehouse, which serves its subject well, a man born to "live, suffer and die" who struggles on, fighting the good fight.
Another song written for a film (but not used ultimately) is "Hairy Situation," about a woman who suffers from hirsutism. It's another catchy tune (though I'll avoid saying it grows on you).
Mirsky switches into retro Cars-mode with "This Song," an infectious admission of the limits to what a song can achieve: "This song is just an empty melody / this song at any speed, in any key / this song is useless as a thing can be / 'cause this song can't make you fall in love with me."
Romantics will be able to identify with "A Hundred Times A Day," about someone who falls in love at least a hundred times each day (but who's counting?). Sure, there are those who would scoff at the sheer volume of it, but Mirsky answers his critics: "You can tell me that it's not real, what I'm feeling inside / This kind of love may not be too deep/ but it sure as hell is wide."
Now and again we do get romance or a straight love song - for example "Make You Feel Good" is a musical feel-good promise of making one feel even better.
Mirsky's smart and cynical at times. Witness the tongue firmly in cheek in "Let's Just Start With Goodbye," a countrified rocker in the style of Nick Lowe or Dave Edmunds that proposes to save time and trouble in a relationship: "Let's just start with goodbye and say we've had enough/ let's just start with goodbye and leave out all the painful stuff."
For those of you in search of a good stocking stuffer, the CD also features a timely holiday song, "The Only Present I Want This Year," dismissing material needs in favor of emotional ones: "The only present I want this year is to have you close and to hold you near / yeah, the only present I want this year is you."
Mirsky covers a lot of bases, ending the CD with "Reciproco," another power pop ballad, yet this one sung in Spanish.
With 16 tracks in all, "Everyone's Having Fun Tonight!" is a solid package of beguiling and bewitching pop. Mirsky's well-structured songs display a strong kinship with the classic pop sensibilities of Nick Lowe, Buddy Holly, early Elvis Costello, and Marshall Crenshaw (and more recently, Walter Clevenger and Eugene Edwards). So treat yourself to some musical charm this holiday season courtesy of Eytan Mirsky, and get this extra bonus - you won't have to wait around for the credits to roll to know who's singing that catchy song.
- Gary Glauber
"Everyone's Having Fun Tonight!"
Eytan Mirsky's mastery of the three-minute pop-rock song continues impressively on his fourth album, "Everyone's Having Fun Tonight!"
I'd hate to think Mirsky is as much of a loser in real life as the woe-is-me content of his songs suggests, but his lyrics about lost love, regret, hard luck and general melancholy certainly sound like the voice of experience. Yet while Mirsky's songs may appear depressing, his bouncy, infectious riffs and melodies prove that one man's misfortune has never been so entertaining. Ex-girlfriend ode "She's Looking Better" kicks things off in terrific style, lamenting how his former lover looks so much hotter since dumping him. The rocking "This Song" humorously documents the inability of the song's subject to sleep with one of his fans.
It's easy to see why many of Mirsky's songs from previous albums have appeared in well-received indie films. The excellent "Happiness" and "American Splendour" also have been recently featured in films. Sung in the film by Michael Stipe, the former is an archetypal Eytan Mirsky song: lyrically melancholy but immensely catchy, with smart lyrics and great musicianship. The latter is something of a departure, due to its raw, acoustic sound.
Mirsky experiments more this time around than he has on previous albums. The off the wall "Reciprico" (sung entirely in Spanish) and the country-rock vibe of "Let's Just Start With Goodbye" further suggest that there is more than enough variety to ensure the 16 tracks on Everyone's Having Fun Tonight never outstay their welcome.
Power pop doesn't get much better than this.
- Andrew Ellis
from AMPLIFIER (reviews page):
Everyone's Having Fun Tonight
Much like the young Woody Allen, Eytan Mirsky has parlayed a lack of success with the opposite sex into quite a nice little career. Following in the footsteps of such earlier works as "Songs about Girls (& Other Painful Subjects)" and "Was It Something I Said?" Mirsky's latest effort, "Everyone's Having Fun Tonight" ("...everyone but me," he's quick to add) is packed to the rafters with heartbreakingly tragic tales of love gone horribly wrong.
While interpersonal ineptitude could rapidly become caustic if allowed to de-evolve into pity or self-loathing, Mirsky manages to sidestep those pitfalls through his clever Costello-ian wordplay and unavoidable catchy melodies. On "She's Looking Better" ("...now that she's not mine"), "Don't Gimme That Look" and the album's title track, for example, Mirsky effectively hides his heartache behind a wall of jaunty rhythm and jangly guitars.
As a bonus, "Everyone's Having Fun Tonight" includes two Mirsky-penned cinematic soundtrack contributions: "Happiness," which had been performed by Michael Stipe in the film of the same name, and the title track from the Academy Award-nominated "American Splendor." The latter is soaringly majestic and a welcome respite from the emotional flotsam that surrounds it.
And who knows? Perhaps Mirsky doesn't really want to be happy: near the end of the disc, when he finally lands the girl, he sabotages his own success by demanding "What's wrong with you/ How come you're falling for a guy like me?" If romantic fulfillment were to ultimately prove kryptonite to Mirsky's formidable pop powers, perhaps we're all better off if he continues to fly solo.
- Rick Schadelbauer
from AMPLIFIER's "Rave On...Random Musings of a (Pop) Nut" column:
Eytan Mirsky's latest, EVERYONE'S HAVING FUN TONIGHT!, finds the NY-based singer/songwriter fashioning his finest release to date. He's still mining his familiar sad sack lyrical territory as the perpetual dumpee/loner/outsider and this time out he's set these ruminations to some damned snappy power poppin' melodies. EVERYONE's? a super strong listen from beginning to end, with "She's Looking Better," "Why Does it Have to Be That Way?" and the charming "The Only Present I Want This Year" leading the pack.
- John Borack
from BUCKETFULL OF BRAINS:
"Everyone's Having Fun Tonight!"
Self-deprecating New Yorker Eytan Mirsky would probably make a hell of a screenwriter. Four albums into his career he's still launching catchy three-minute pop songs that view the world from the bottom up.
The title track sounds like the theme from a sock-hop satire (it's everyone but him having fun, of course). In "She's Looking Better", the girl has moved on; and the bouncy "Happiness" is, of course, about the lack of it (and the title track of pal Todd Solondz's independent movie). Face it, an Eytan album is a loser's soundtrack. But so what? Mirsky writes hooks reflexively and gets right to the point without meandering. Some are put off by his vocal style, dramatic and mixed up front, but I think they suit the material perfectly. This might be the best sounding record he's made, too. With NYC stud Larry Saltzman on guitar, dare I say it - Eytan rocks! Someone should tip Ric Ocasek to "This Song"; if they did, he'd reform The Cars on the spot; ditto Elvis Costello and "Don't Gimme That Look" (he might even call Bruce Thomas!). "Let's Start With Goodbye" is begging for a pop country star to ride it to the top of the charts. Also includes tracks written for "American Splendor", "Human Nature" and "From Other Worlds"... did I mention he did the artwork, too? Go Eytan!
- Bill Holmes
from THE HIPPO:
Eytan Mirsky, Everyone's Having Fun Tonight
*** (3 Stars out of 4)
M-Squared Records, 2004
If his real life is anything like his lyrics, Eytan Mirsky doesn't have much luck with the ladies.
A sampling of his songs includes ones with titles like "Sluts," "All the Guys You Loved Before," "When Good Girls Go Bad," "Just Another in a Long, Long Line," "Losing You," "You Don't Know Her," and...well, you get the picture. Suffice it to say, Eytan Mirsky has been burned once or twice in love.
So who the hell is Eytan Mirsky? I asked myself that same question after discovering, during the credits of the movie Tao of Steve, that he is the singer/songwriter behind the movie's catchy theme song, "(I Just Wanna Be) Your Steve McQueen."
Based on the strength of that little ditty I bought two of Mirsky's previous CDs, Was it Something I Said? and Get Ready for Eytan! and was glad I did. His latest attempt, "Everyone's Having Fun Tonight," is in the same vein, featuring his unique brand of power-pop, presented in short snippets (most songs are less than three minutes long).
Like its predecessors, "Everyone's Having Fun Tonight!" gives listeners a number of woe-unto-me-I-suck-at-love songs like "Bad, Bad Luck," which chronicles a litany of excuses given to the singer by a would-be date.
When he finally gets the one he wants, something must be the matter with her, a question pondered in "What's Wrong with You?" This is a musical version of Groucho Marx's quip, "I don't want to be a member of any club that will accept me as a member."
"Let's Just Start with Goodbye," which features a rockabilly tune, proposes ending an actual relationship immediately, thus avoiding all the pain and heartache that is bound to come. On the flip side of that coin, "A Hundred Times a Day" has Mirsky singing of falling in love at least 100 times a day. That kind of love may not be deep, he admits, "but it sure as hell is wide."
While such songs are amusing, thankfully "Everyone's Having Fun Tonight!" isn't all about Mirsky's misadventures in love. The album features the song "Happiness," a fun song searching for, you guessed it, happiness. "American Splendor," slower in tempo than most of the songs on the CD, still has its own catchiness, even if its subject matter - I-will-live-to-fight-another-day-despite-adversity - is not quite so cheery.
Both "Happiness" and "American Splendor" are featured on the soundtracks of the movies that share their respective titles.
If you like cynical, sometimes bitter humor you'll like Eytan Mirsky. We've all shared his thoughts at one time or another. He makes them fun.
- Will Stewart
"Everyone's Having Fun Tonight!"
In Europe practically no one knows Eytan Mirsky. That is a kind of a surprise. "Everyone's Having Fun Tonight!" is already his fourth album, he's contributed music to a couple of films and he's even written a song for R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe. The talented New Yorker stands musically in the same tradition of exceptional musicians as Jonathan Richman, Elvis Costello and Evan Dando. The sixteen songs on "Everyone's..." make the heart of every Powerpop-Fan beat faster because of their irresistible drive, the rejoicing melodies and Eytan's charming voice. Garnished with cynical tongue-in-cheek lyrics, Eytan's songs succeed in establishing a unique sound that stands out from the mass of Singer/Songwriters. Anyone who still has a heart for good "Old School Powerpop" -- think of Nick Lowe, THE ONLY ONES or THE CARS, or Popweirdos like THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS and Gary Young -- should lend Eytan Mirsky an ear or two.
- Frank Dietrich