Album Review: Tape/Off-Chipper

artworks-000079925806-adtf10-t500x500Tape/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

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Video: Tape/Off-Pedestal Fan

There’s nothing better than some simple, squealing punk music that makes an MC5 performance sound like a Parliamentary meeting in Canada. “No, you made a really good point there, eh”, “Why thankyou, I put a lot of effort into thinking aboot it”.

Maligned stereotypes aside, Tape/Off are doing the former thing mentioned with incredible results. Take ‘Pedestal Fan’-it’s a loud, rowdy bum rush of guitars, thumping bass lines, and cocaine-fed drums, loosened up even more with some bellowing lyrics. It’s an imprecise, amateur, and most importantly, blaring tribute to the bands of old that ensured punk survived long enough for the mainstream to damn near strangle it to death.

In case you were listening to the video on mute, and couldn’t align the music itself with the all-important role that Tape/Off are playing in the Australian punk renaissance, then the black and white shots of the ‘classic’ punk tour van will have to do. They party hard, they fall down, they stand up, and they struggle to play their instruments. Sounds like a punk band to me (even if the catalyst for all this is trying to play in a moving van).

New: Tape/Off + Girl Band + Forests + White Lodge + Francis Lung (former Wu Lyf) + The Solicitors + Ernest Ellis

New songs are like herpes: you can’t get rid of them, and although they might annoy you at times, they make you a better person. Or something like that. None of these songs are annoying. In fact, they’re all awesome.

Tape/Off-Pedestal Fan

The Brisbane connection for Tape/Off isn’t too hard to listen out for in their new single ‘Pedestal Fan’.  Tape/Off are similar to other Brisbanauts Violent Soho and DZ Deathrays, but slightly more brutal, like an elephant charging through a cymbal shop. The tight snares, semi-bellowed vocals and raucous nature of the song makes people like me tight in the loins. But, despite the noise orgy, there’s a bit of melody shining through, turning your average schizophrenic guitar mess. Although short as fuck, ‘Pedestal Fan’ hits the sweet spot that makes garage and punk fans drool like someone shoved a water balloon down their throats.

Girl Band-Lawman

More cut-throat savagery, this time from Girl Band. The first thing you’ll probably notice about their track ‘Lawman’, is that its really quiet. It starts at a factory-floor pace, chugging along the conveyer belt. All of a sudden, there’s an unloading of squealing, dirty guitar. And it doesn’t stop, just torrents of noise, kind of like what I imagine happens every time Thurston Moore took a shit back in the late 80’s. The song is absolutely beautiful and distorting, taking sudden turns destroying your brain and haphazardly trying putting it back together. When the song finishes, your mind will look like a half-melted candle assembled by a 3 year old with the motor skills of an iguana on crack. Loud, vicious and entirely unpredictable, ‘Lawman’ is fucking rad.

Forests/White Lodge Split 7″

Now, getting slightly more friendly, but not even close to being out of the fuzz zone, its a split 7″ between the glorious White Lodge and a band called Forests. Forests (not to be confused with Forest Swords, or actual forests) are from Taiwan. I know fuck all about Taiwan, so from now on, if anyone asks, I’ll just say that it’s a place in South East Asia where an awesome band called Forests is located. Super-dooper-Koopa-Trooper they are, with a sound that could place nicely in any Ty Segall record. The fuzz overloads on the Forest songs ‘Ego Bender’ and ‘The Fall’ are ripped right from the heart of the current San Fran psych-garage scene, and it could not have been executed better if it were done by John Dwyer himself. The songs are bright, sparkly, and best of all, absolutely keeling over on overdosed acid-tinged guitar freakouts. Fucking brilliant.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the 7″, its Queensland-reppin’ psych lords White Lodge. Interestingly enough, they’ve moved away from the heavy psych, and into the lighter territory of Burnt Ones/Thee Oh Sees styled psych-garage. ‘Her Spell’ hops along at a breakneck pace, the surf-rock verses just a faint illusion that is smashed apart by the grovelling, blood-stained chorus. ‘Flower Eyes’ sees a slight return to the slowed-down badassery, but only at the beginning. It soon divulges to be another fast-paced, speed-laced flower-pop tune like The Black Lips used to make. Regardless, this 7″ needs to be owned by all lovers of anything good.

Francis Lung (former Wu Lyf)-A Selfish Man

I was a massive fan of Wu Lyf, and their self-described ‘Heavy Pop’, and it came as a bit of a blow when they broke up. They were one of the few ‘indie rock’ bands that really challenged the cocoon of sound that most bands had adopted to sell a fuck load of records. Now that the band is a thing of the past, former member Francis Lung has struck out on his own with this debut track ‘A Selfish Man’. There’s a lot going on here, but you wouldn’t know it. Lung manages to compact all the sounds on the song, and weave it into a beautiful little tapestry. And, yeah its smooth as fuck, like Ron Burgundy wearing silk.

https://soundcloud.com/the-solicitors-1/help-me-forget

The Solicitors-Help Me Forget

Power-pop is a genre that more or less faded after the 80’s. There hasn’t been any heaps, heaps ultra gewd power-pop bands that spring to mind that were around after Replacements’ ‘Pleased to Meet Me’, and in my mind, Weezer doesn’t make the cut as an altogether power-pop band. However, The Solicitors are well-placed in that genre beyond any shade of doubt. The positive-ness that radiates off the negative nature of the songs is so unsubtle, its like a warzone of good times. Like their hero Alex Chilton, The Solicitors make the kind of catchy pop that resonates for a while after the song has finished.

Ernest Ellis-Shine Like Me

It seems like Ernest Ellis is always bringing out new shit for his loyal disciples to froth over. That’s not a bad thing, by the way. That’s a really, really good thing. And it just got better, via the track ‘Shine Like Me’. His beautiful vocals drop over a sharp and delicate guitar pattern, whilst bright keys occasionally dance underneath. And then that chorus hits, and boom, you’re hooked like Dustin Hoffman’s character for the 1991 smash hit Peter Pan sequel. ‘Shine Like Me’ is a gratingly brilliant song, that again shows off the amazing skillz of Ernest Ellis.

If you’re keen for more Ernest Ellis, he’s bringing out a new record in March, and will be playing a show at Brighton Up Bar on February 28. Schweeeeeet!