Tape/Off are from Brisbane, but don’t hold it against them. They’re city may be the ‘ugly cousin’ of pristine, not-at-all-shit beacons of culture like Sydney or Melbourne, but that’s primarily what gives the bands of Brisbane the amazing aesthetic that sets them apart from the cleaner sounds you’d get out of the other capital cities of the East Coast. And primarily, that’s what Tape/Off’s album is about. Similar to recent suburban ode to the forgotten city of Brisbane, Violent Soho’s crushing ‘Hungry Ghost’, Tape/Off compress, grind and viciously decapitate anything that will stand in the way of their hometown. They are truly the knights of Brissy.
Tape/Off excel at doing the kind of gritty, lambasting rock n roll that seemed to peak in the 90’s. Acts like Screamfeeder, Archers of Loaf and At the Drive-In can all be heard pretty distinctly, albeit through the howling vocals and droning guitars. Speaking of the guitars, they angle themselves so that it appears like they’re crashing on top of you, wave after wave of obliterating noise and gnarled punk. There are a few moments of thankful relief, wherein Tape/Off stretch their legs, and firmly show they can diversify their noisy brand. But when Tape/Off are going hard, it’s a blissful marriage of happiness and brilliance.
‘Pedestal Fan’ is an absolute gun of track. It races itself, furiously trying to trip up its various parts, like that dickhead kid you knew in primary school who always stuck his leg out right when you were hitting your peak on the running track. That analogy doesn’t apply to me, because I’ve never run, ever, but the point remains that Tape/Off blitz through this stand out track with the loud, clanging and abusing their instruments like each respective chord is a member of parliament. Joe Hockey-BLAM! Christopher Pyne-SCHING! Tony Abbott-*More torrential raining of fingers on a fretboard than has ever been witnessed before*.
Whilst ‘Pedestal Fan’ is obviously stand out, the other brutal tracks on this record assure Tape/Off of the status they deserve. ‘Peggy’s Lookout’ is an apocalyptic lesson in noise riffs, as if ‘Raining Blood’ was created in a sharehouse in Fortitude Valley, using shitty Sonic Youth guitars. And ‘Climates’ borrows the kind of spitting bravado that made everyone fall in love with Total Control. When the end of every sentence is gargled and forcibly thrown up into the microphone, you can’t help but want to go see this band live, just to see if actual regurgitation will occur when this song goes off.
But, as mentioned before, there are some quieter (emphasis on ‘…er’) that break up the noise and clanging, and bring Tape/Off a sense of ready reailty. Their not a shitty hardcore band that’s never heard of the term ‘melody’ before. Songs like ‘Australia’s Most Liveable City’ and ‘I Believe In You’ give a propulsion and sincerity that is all too rare in bands not afraid of turning it up to 11.
Tape/Off have achieved something that barely ever happens anymore, and hasn’t been done well since the Sebadoh glory days-subversively fusing pop tactics with a messy tangle of noise, until the two become indistinguishable in the maelstrom. ‘Chipper’ is a record and a half, one that delivers, relating and retaliating in equal turns. It unfolds the ugly but much-loved story of Brisbane and the Brisbanauts, and almost makes you want to spend the rest of your life there. ‘Chipper’ is a time capsule, a love story and a brutal head-pounder all rolled into one.
Watch Tape/Off in the flesh this Sunday at 3pm at Black Wire, along with awesome mates Cull and Narrow Lands. Killin’ it