Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Cassette Reviews: Scotch Tapes Cassettes

Recently, the nice people behind Scotch Tapes, a Canadian cassette label specializing in very limited runs of their releases, were kind enough to send me 5 cassettes to review for this blog. It was a true mixed bag, with each cassette sounding very different from each other. Lets see what we’ve got.

Puffy Shoes-Miracle Puffy Shoes Are Coming
Easily the catchiest thing I receive and just as infectious. Puffy Shoes is a Japanese duo who has been together for less than a year, with this tape being the cassette version of their first demo/record. It also happens to be pure genius. The tape is a great mixture of garage-y Vivian Girls-meets-Shonen Knife style tunes and unabashed girly twee pop tracks, both equally as good. There even is a fake J pop tune on here that the band pulls of without a hitch. The standout is the final track “Boys Don’t Like Me or My Puffy Shoes”. Less than a minute long, with only thundering drums and goofy sound effects, it still manages to be a lo-fi track from heaven. Hard to believe only 30 of these were pressed when 1,000 would sell easy.

The Incoherent Posers-Greetings from the Incoherent Posers
Imagine if you took the intro to a bunch of surf-garage songs and tried to stretch them into 2-3 minute songs. That is basically what this cassette sounds like. While it sounds good on paper, it doesn’t really work here. It is nothing but guitar and randomly inserted vocals. Every track sounds like it was written five seconds before being played, and no, that is not a good thing. While the opening two tracks are great and catchy and some other songs have catchy parts to them, the guitar gets very annoying by the fifth track and it’s nothing but that the whole album. Next time add drums or cut the album down to an EP.

People’s Pop Ensemble-On the Subject of Mediocrity
With this release, Scotch Tapes may have found a long lost Daniel Johnston cassette from the 80s. Everything is there: the two-track tape hiss, a rough non-singer voice, acoustic guitar and piano,, lyrics about love and self-deprecation. Even some religious imagery just for good measure. Whether they are just blatantly ripping him off or he is that much of an influence is unclear, but either way it draws you in the same way as those old Johnston tapes did, i.e., earnest lyrics with simple instrumentation and very lo-fi production. While it never gets exactly to the point of Johnston’s heartfeltness or genius, it comes close and that is good enough.

Tayside Mental Health/Great Slave Lake-Split Cassingle
This cassingle scared me when I started to read up on the bands. They were apparently noise monster bands that were the unholy children of AIDS Wolf and Lightning Bolt. Plus the cover art, despite being really cool, didn’t help distill this belief. However, upon listening to the actual tape, it isn’t that bad. Both band’s two tracks are pure noise, but not the loudness or barrage that the other bands have to them. And while music like this gets very annoying, very fast, in a short, 10 minute burst like this it is surprisingly manageable. If you’re into any of the previously mentioned bands, you might like this.

The Cryogenic Strawberries-St Failure
This is easily the weirdest thing I’ve ever listened to. It is probably what the first ever Ween demo sounded like, multiplied by an acid or two. The demented jokes of the band’s mastermind Eddie DeSade, most of the tracks consist of his insane mumblings or stories coupled with some slight music or beats. Some of the music is actually kind of good and DeSade can make you chuckle here and there, but most of the time this does not happen and DeSade can be a little creepy and/or scary. The tracks blend together so that five can go bye without you knowing and the track listing is also screwed up as well (unless that is another joke as well). Not recommended.


Puffy Shoes Website
The Incoherent Posers Myspace

People’s Pop Ensemble Myspace
Tayside Mental Hospital Myspace
Great Slave Lake Myspace
The Cryogenic Strawberries Myspace

All these extremely limited run cassettes can be bought here, at Scotch Tapes.

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