October 18, 2011 § Leave a comment
In the past year, I’ve learned that writing about music is much different than listening to music. In short, taking these records that I like (subjectively) and forcing them into an objective public critique is something that I simply don’t feel like I’m good at, even if the enthusiasm is there. I value music critics and honest opinions, but when it comes to asserting these opinions in a public space (such as this blog), I can’t seem to do it without feeling like it’s a sales-pitch. I’ll play in bands, I’ll go to shows, I’ll design the artwork, I’ll record it, I’ll mix it, I’ll stay up all night and dub cassettes for bands that I like and carve out j-cards with an xacto knife. That’s the process that I like, from start to finish, so I’ll continue with that at tapedeco.com. As far as having an opinion on all of it? Nah. Good or bad, music speaks for itself.
August 2, 2011 § Leave a comment
Close To Me is sort of an anomaly. To locals, the Mid-South is a good decade or two in the past. The school system, economy, crime, public transportation…everything seems to be in total disarray and the general vibe is kind of a bummer at times. Imagine an even more southern Gummo ten years later and you’ll get a good idea of how weird Memphis is. It’s not hard to believe that there are bands still playing post-hardcore that sounds like it stepped out of a late-90s time warp created by Orchid, Saetia, Pg99, and many others. It sounds like these guys had a steady diet of nothing but post-rock since early high school, which could be dangerous territory for creating compelling music within a genre bloated with shitty same-sounding bands. But this might be why their 2010 demo works so well. Close To Me sings a croon at odds with themselves and with their surroundings, both physical and musical. There’s no free jazz, no post-acid dubstepping, no good-feeling beach reverb guitars, just pure hard-working gut and limited posturing. Their latest demo starts off with blurts of sparse amp noise, cramming in a good 30 seconds of silence to balance the sheer weight of the next 8ish minutes. It’s a refreshing listen, rotten, full of angst, and hopeless at best. Close To Me played their last show this past month, but you can still listen to (or download) their latest demo here.
July 12, 2011 § Leave a comment
Writing about A Funeral Walkaway Parade is difficult. My memory of the band is fragmented and I struggle to string together two sentences in a way that tells a cohesive story. Instead I find myself thumbing through my Rolodex of memories, pulling out picturesque scenes, half-erased names and plenty of questions. They are unintentionally elusive and their reclusive nature helps construct the mystery that reeks in my head. I’m still not entirely sure where the members live or who is even in the band. Last I heard, Jeff Thornton was living in New Orleans and playing solo shows around town. Ex-drummer Rob O’Neal was often frustrated because of the lack of song structure, often saying he had no idea what to play (even during live performances). Are the other members still in Montana? What ever happened to Cheyenne, that one drummer who played his dad’s old drums from Strawberry Alarm Clock? Is that rumor even true? For me, the myth and tension only adds to the enjoyment. Even though the details are fuzzy and distant, their songs stand front-and-center on their SoundCloud page. These new songs take a departure from the frantic nature of their 2006 album Of Colors and Tones, often basing sounds around a crude acoustic guitar, plenty of atmosphere and that unmistakable voice.
July 10, 2011 § 1 Comment
Bruce, MS everyman Andrew Bryant has been brewing his own flavor of rock music for well over a decade, often seeping his songs in his folk-appropriate Sunday-morning-worship surroundings. Though his roots are deep in Mississippi soil, his branches reach far into the soul of Memphis, as writer (and my ex-next door neighbor) Mark Jordan writes in defense of ranking 2009’s Galilee as Memphis’ #2 record for The Commercial Appeal. “You can quibble about whether Andrew Bryant, who lives outside of Oxford, Miss., qualifies as a Memphis artist. The fact that he plays here often and his band lives here are my rationale for inclusion. But even if the technical criteria land you on the opposite side of the argument, the power of the glorious, moody folk-rock collection Galilee is more than enough reason to annex him.” Honeymoon/Blackbird is seemingly ordinary on the seams, yet intrinsically haunting and effortlessly beautiful. Andrew finds himself revisiting songs from 2004’s Honeymoon EP and pairing them with a newer batch of songs. These aren’t spruced-up demo tracks, these are full-on productions that only a patient ear can develop in a familiar home studio.
I designed this cassette so that it will age well in your pick-up truck glove box. The o-cards were letterpress-printed by Hannah King using polymer plates and Neenah paper. You can pre-order the cassettes and download the album at andrewbryant.bandcamp.com.
June 5, 2011 § 2 Comments
Jonathan Edward Hunsucker has been making consistently good jams in his bedroom just outside of Chicago (via Southaven–right outside of Memphis, TN). His instrument of choice ranges anywhere from a standard acoustic guitar to a soul CD occasionally skipping ahead(?). The result is loose and completely unhinged, true fragmented-stream-of-conscious pop music. Imagine Olivia Tremor Control presented with the intimacy of that secret song at the end of Dookie. Great stuff!
May 26, 2011 § Leave a comment
It’s hard to be bored in Chicago. From the CTA stations to the Empty Bottle, there’s good music in every corner waiting to be captured on tape. Distractions front-man Tom Owens is keen to this and has been posting quality mono-turned-stereo recordings on his brilliant SHYTAPER blog for quite a while. Feeling inspired, I recorded Distractions with a shitty Talkboy tape recorder earlier this week at the Empty Bottle and mastered it using a dbx noise compressor and a little EQ. Download the set here.