I know that I have mentioned before of my recent conversion over to the cult of the cassette tape. This has lead to some great discoveries, of course forcing me to ask the question, “What have I been keeping myself from for the past couple of years?”
It was through another tape purchase that I discovered the band Chat Logs. Maybe part of my love for this batch of songs is partly because of the element of surprise. I wasn’t planning on buying this album, didn’t even know that it existed, and now I have it here with me
What I got was an aggressive bass assault with grinding guitars and menacing vocals. The perpetual, circular bass-line of “Eat Your Heart Out” is intermittently interrupted by a heavily echoed, distorted and pitch shifted guitar that’s doing it’s best interpretation of a blues break, but is run through a experimental noise-rock filter. And many of the songs take on a similar structure, with persistent bass holding everything together while the guitars and vocals buzz, screech and echo all around it.
“Am I Right, Or Am I Right?” clocks in at just over 19 minutes with its 4 tracks, the perfect EP length. Personal favorite “Mooks” is mostly instrumental (or at least has a lengthy instrumental break in the middle) with a great winding lead guitar line that sounds like a more unrestrained Constantines track.
The album is available now through Already Dead Records and Tapes, a limited run, specialty press label run out of Chicago that is absolutely worth checking out for fans of sometimes obscure, experimental, electronic, hard-edged garage and all other genres in between.
I used to consider myself to be firmly in the camp of anti-tape. I just couldn’t understand why it was that people were bringing back such a (thankfully) dead medium. The angle that I was looking at was, well there is a reason that I always buy stuff on vinyl and it’s because it sounds better and is a more authentic representation of the actual music than a digital representation from a CD or mp3. It seemed to me that recording stuff to tape was simply an effort of creating nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake, and it just seemed completely backwards.
Not long ago, though, I was reading about how the community that has sprung up around creating tapes considers them to be an act of rebellion of sorts. It’s much cheaper and easier to distribute tapes than it is to record vinyl, and it doesn’t require nearly as much technology as is required to create digital files. That is something that I can get down with. If it is a means for more people to get their music out there, and in a medium that is tangible, then how could anyone not support that. I think what finally sold me was when I got a pair of tapes from Crash Symbols. Sure, the nostalgia is there, but the tapes and the artwork for Julie’s Haircut and Exotic Club are so captivating. How could I not love it? What is going to happen though is that bigger bands are going to try to cash in on this, creating tapes for no reason other than “they seem to be getting more popular.”
Well, this isn’t about me. I was just pointed in the direction of a label, Already Dead Tapes & Records, and discovered that it’s a pretty good place to poke around. According to the site Already Dead Tapes was founded by Joshua Tabbia and Sean Hartman. The label is run by Joshua Tabbia, Sean Hartman, Ray Jackson and Alex Borozan and they are a DIY record label releasing cassettes, vinyl and fine art in small editions.
What specifically brought me to the site was a tape by mchtnchts. “The Spoiled West and its Freshly Minted Infants” is a fresh blast of noise from bent circuits and analog sources from a pair of musicians from the Bay Area. There’s a sample on the page. Make sure you act quick though, the release is limited to 40 tapes…well, 39 tapes.
Looking around a little more there’s some bouncy garage rock from Panda Kid’s “Summetry” 12″. I think they are from Italy. I feel like Italian indie rock is stalking me, or maybe it’s the other way around. That one is pretty fantastic and worth a listen. They end up sounding like a roughed up Beach Fossils in some ways, with similarly breezy and carefree aesthetic, though taken to some strange dark places at times. Only 30 of those available. And then there is the art-rock weirdness and bass heaviness of Comfort Food’s “Dr. Faizan’s Feel Good Brain Pills” tape. Both great and for very different reasons.
Have fun checking out all the stuff on Already Dead’s site. To get to the bandcamp pages for the bands, just click on the “i” next to the play button on each page. I have yet to come across something not worth hearing. Follow the links below and check out the bandcamp pages linked above. All of these releases are extremely limited, so if you are thinking that you want to get something, you’d better grab it while you can. Otherwise, grabbing the albums digitally on bandcamp might be a good contingency plan, but I think supporting this great small-edition label is definitely the best way to go.