Part two of my list of influential and interesting cassettes. This post chronicles tape releases from 1993-2002
Tattle Tale - Tell Yell
(1993 Kill Rock Stars)
While many riot grrrl bands of the early nineties attempted to imitate Beat Happening's feedback-laden take on punk, Tattle Tale assumed a uniquely placid tone for the scene, employing acoustic guitar and cello to create a sound that loosely resembled Cat Stevens' approach to folk. Compared to the rest of the duo's discography, their debut tape, Tell Yell, is an extremely raw effort perfectly suited to the tape format. "Numb Eye" and the wonderfully minimal "A Girl's Toolbox" are particularly beautiful tracks. Despite the lack of electric guitars on this cassette, it's one of the punk-est releases of the nineties. Listen to "Numb Eye" below.
Wallpaper - The Various Decorative Uses Of
(1993 Union Pole)
Delivering quirky and fuzzed out lo-fi pop, Wallpaper was one of the most addictive bands on Olympia-based tape label Union Pole. The Various Decorative Uses Of scatters catchy garage rock gems and earsplitting noise collages across two cassettes, making for an intimidating listen. If you're able to tough it out during the challenging portions and keep your finger off the fast-forward button, you'll be able to revel in more than a few short moments of punk rock bliss. This is definitely recommended for disciples of the Elephant 6 Collective. Stream it in full below.
Soul Junk - 1950 Free Shrimp
There are many surprises that await the cassette culture historian, and Soul Junk is one of the biggest. It was a San Diego-based trio formed by Glen Galloway, cranking out your typical lo-fi rock sound with not-so-typical lyrics. Each twangy, percussive track on 1950 Free Shrimp includes overtly Christian lyrics, many of them lifted directly from the Bible. Whether you're down with the message or not, if you're into bands like Sebadoh and Refrigerator, I guarantee you'll be able to jam to this tape. Humorously titled free jazz experiments like "The Lord's Saxophone" give the album antiquated charm. You may have your doubts about Soul-Junk, but they'll win you over with their strangely alluring lead guitars and ultra-DIY ethic. Listen to "Jesus Light The Light" below.
French Paddleboat - Rome Loves Tan
(1997 Union Pole)
Yet another quality release on the Union Pole imprint, Rome Loves Tan is composed of two sides of jazz-infused Krautrock. Sampled percussion, warm keyboards and funky bass lines make up the entrancing groove on Side A, a repetitive gem that will send you floating in space for a good 15 minutes. Side B keeps things slightly grounded, keeping the focus on the off-kilter beat of the drum machines. It slowly morphs into a slow R&B jam that would make great elevator music. Rome Loves Tan is a beautiful, polished effort that just about anyone can enjoy.
Stars Are Insane - Anonymously Yours
(2000 Rok Lok)
This is the sort of lo-fi album I've always loved: shoegaze soundcapes made up of crunchy guitar noodlings and background pops and clicks. Most of the tape is instrumental, but you might occasionally hear Mike Andriani's vocals break through the dense cloud of noise-pop vibes. It's very similar to My Own Retard's recent cassette pressed by Swan City Sounds, and, according to my little brother, can resemble a tornado siren at times. Only 32 copies of this tape were made, giving it a mysterious aura.
Church of Gravitron - Female Advances In Aviation
(2002 Unread Tapes)
Ahead of its time in many respects, Church of Gravitron explores the more ambient side of noise in Female Advances In Aviation, a thirty-minute experimental epic built around simple, slowly evolving tape loops. Despite the album's minimal nature there's an orchestrally layered feel to the tape; it's rich and deep, each burst of static has a purpose. Unlike many harsh noise tapes of the era, there's more to Female Advances than its volume. For the casual listener, it serves up a relaxing wall of sound to drown in. For the noise die-hard, it provides enough subtleties to keep you drawn in for a full half hour. A simply beautiful tape. Fans of Aaron Dilloway will love it. Listen below.