After nearly a decade of scattered touring and releases, Californian Matt Adams, aka the Blank Tapes, might be gaining a little focus, despite the apparent cumulus cloud of herb he spends his days hovering in. Or at least that’s what you’d ascertain from hanging out in this Geodesic Dome Piece.
Musically, the songwriting here is suspiciously constructed, quite tight actually, melodies never floating away in the lava lamp obby-dooby. Most especially gratifying are the stingy, trebly guitar tones that are a nice departure from the over-reverb wash of the preponderance of current garage-psych from the left coast. That hits you in your red-eyes right off on the excellent opener, Way Too Stoned, which calls to mind the more expansive bands of the ’80s paisley underground like True West and Rain Parade.
Then simple but effective flourishes charmingly trip up the ongoing day-glo trip: the waves crashing in 420, fuzzy memories of when Flaming Lips weren’t so rich (For Breakfast), and the drunky-deep back-up singing and sax on Slippin’ Slide.
The constant lyrical references to getting high though are silly after a while (even accepting that it’s a bit of a shtick). As time goes on, getting high on “stuff that’s gonna mess you up” has lost most of it’s weirdo appeal since it’s increasingly commonplace to injest mind-altering substances. Not to mention, have you ever hung out with someone who constantly smokes a lot of weed? Not exactly rousing. Whereas the Blank Tapes’ tunes can be.
Once again, Adams lays off all the cliched, over-layered, lo-fi shoegaze tendencies of most modern psych-pop. Mid-song, the disco beat of Buff grabs soon hooks arm-in-arm with whirlwind lead guitar wailing, all finally slamming down on the ground at the end. Then there’s something about Magic Leaves that feels kinda original disco era radio rock too, and the next song with “High” in the title also has a shifty beat, and it’s apparent that we’re dealing with a cat who knows from keeping flare-pants guitar invitingly dancey in an era where guitar rock is often accused of the opposite.
Oh My Muzak by title alone isn’t afraid of perhaps the ultimate endpoint for Adams, but for now bubbly beats, “Oh my child” back-ups, bongos and banjos all metered together for some street-struttin’ finger-poppin’ (and a heart that resides in that fourth Velvet Underground LP) feels mighty fresh in these dark days of winter.
By the time “Brown Chicken Brown Cow” prances out, your tolerance for far out-isms might be tested, especially when the next song is called (groan) Do You Wanna Get High. Nope, I just want some topic and sonic left turns at this point. But yeah, given that it’s all cold and icy outside, Adams is a good guest to let inside for a spell.