Cassette Corner: Log Across the Washer - "Pancakes"

Log Across the Washer - Pancakes
(Crash Symbols 2013)
Pancakes' warm jazz production and quirky songcraft keep it timeless
Releasing an album that weighs in at twenty-plus tracks is risky business, and it usually results in either a fascinating collection of brief song snippets that hold up on their own or an overindulgent mess. Luckily, taking a cue from Guided by Voices’ bag of tricks, Tyler Keene’s psychedelic solo project Log Across the Washer falls under the former category on his new tape, Pancakes, by varying his delivery dramatically over the hour long album, but holding each track together with a vintage jazz vibe (Keene cites John Coltrane as an influence). Though you might be tempted to lump Log Across The Washer along with other current jazz and funk influenced acts like Mac Demarco and Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Keene seems to live in a bubble that prevents him from devoting too much of his attention to imitating a certain artist or scene. Pancakes’ warm production and quirky songcraft keep it timeless, and it’ll certainly hold up in just about any music fan’s cassette collection.

Pancakes opens with “On the Swinging Stairs”, appropriately titled considering its guitars, which seem to violently wobble and bend at random. Keene’s multi-part harmonies and use of the trumpet on this track recall Kevin Barnes’ clever arrangements on mid 2000’s Of Montreal LPs. Tinny, dissonant organ carries the weight of “Electric Blanket”, an avant-funk jam with one of the most addictive hooks on the album, featuring warbly falsetto. Things get a bit more understated on Side B, opened by “So The Story Goes”, a track free of any sort of the screwball experimentation that accents most of the tape. Its guitars are metallic and narcotic and Keene’s vocals lower to the soothing whisper one might expect to hear from Yo La Tengo. There’s a lot of untapped potential hinted at in the B Side, and hopefully Log Across the Washer Builds off the side’s triumphs.