Lost Sound Tapes
Label Overview: As a packaging geek, the first things to catch my eye as I opened the latest batch of cassettes from Lost Sound Tapes were the cases the tapes were housed in. The Seattle-based label's owner, Jon Manning, tells me they're called "soft poly boxes". Rather than swinging open on a hinge, these cases are made of one piece of pliant plastic, shutting tightly with a satisfying snap. There is also a small circle lightly imprinted on the face of these boxes, which remind me of the cases harmonicas come in when you win them at a carnival game. Though it may just be the novelty of seeing them for the first time, I think these soft poly boxes are really cool! Don't let them distract you from what lies inside them, though. Each of the four new tapes I've listened to channel the fuzzy, DIY ethic of the early 90's and should be a treat for fans of bands like Yuck and Teenage Fanclub. You can buy the tapes listed below here: lostsoundtapes.com
Lê Almeida - Pré Ambulatório
I've been listening to a lot of Pavement and Guided by Voices lately, so listening to this album by Brazil's Le Almeida really hit the spot. The electric chords sound as if grating against concrete, and they're interspersed with acoustic pickings and dense layers of hiss. The vocals are nicely filtered, but you won't be able to understand them unless you can speak Portuguese. Surprisingly, it doesn't detract from the listening experience; actually, it helps you focus on the good stuff, like the venomous riffs in "Lambda Lambda Beta". Other highlights include a solo at the end of Track 1 that reminds me of something that Dinosaur Jr. would cook up, and the caustic crunch of "Ambulatório".
Katie and the Lichen - Yours Truly
Taking influence from K Records alums like Lois Maffeo and Kimya Dawson, 5-piece pop band Katie and the Lichen's new album "Yours Truly" pairs instruments like the autoharp and the ukulele with prominent percussion, creating a sound that's simple, yet also refuses to be ignored. It's also recorded onto a purple tape. I'm not sure why, but I seem to really enjoy cassettes pressed in that color. The track I liked most was the jittery and upbeat "Mirror Image". They're playing a show just about every day this summer, see if you can catch one! There's a schedule on their bandcamp page.
OK Vancouver OK - Food Shelter Water
With warbly guitars and thud-ing drums, no-wave trio OK Vancouver OK's amateurish sound is perfectly in tune with the vibe of the Pacific Northwest. Cloudy puffs of distortion on tracks like "I've Been Since I've Been" hang weightlessly like a winter's breath, a gray vapor that dissolves into the atmosphere as quickly as it materializes. Particularly beautiful sounding is the anti-capitalist anthem "At Home In the Garden", the guitars crystalline, the quiet keyboards billowing like laundry hanging out to dry. At times, rays of sunlight pierce the cozy fog, "Pit House Tree House" giving off the subdued, surfy vibe of New Jersey's Ducktails.
Imaginary Pants - S/T
I've been a fan of Rose Melberg's music ever since getting a Tiger Trap CD last Christmas (there's an article in issue one of the zine about the many bands she's been in) and it's awesome to see the debut EP for her latest project, Imaginary Pants, pressed on cassette. Unlike previous Melberg releases, keyboards, played by Jon Manning, have just as much of a role in the music as jangly guitars. Melberg and Manning's harmonies, vocal and instrumental are lovely, the keys sounding particularly dreamy on my favorite cut, "Notarized and Signed".