In populous cities‚ it's common for young bands to record basement or bedroom tapes. These recordings aren't so much famous for their fidelity as notorious for their lack of it. But the best tapes capture the claustrophobic revelations of musicians trying to cram their entire identities into antiquated recording equipment and a crowded room.
The ambitions of a good bedroom tape could fill an entire barn‚ and since the members of Pleasure Gap live in New Hampshire‚ that's exactly where they recorded. Their Tropical Barn is a place where ideas are howled at the rafters and linger for a time‚ only to bounce back unannounced when the band is working on a disparate song. Anyone familiar with early Modest Mouse will hear some similarities‚ but Pleasure Gap's acoustic driven arrangements usually operate within a folk-ier framework.
"Mescaline Eyes‚" the opening track‚ establishes a manic energy present throughout Tropical Barn‚ with vocals that sound shouted from across the room rather than whispered into a microphone‚ and an acoustic guitar riff that starts subdued but erratically leads the band in and out of explosions of noise. "Mescaline Eyes" is an excellent introduction to the ticking time bomb that is Pleasure Gap. Their experimental folk songs don't always erupt into chaos‚ but the threat of an eruption is always present.
On other tracks‚ like "Die (When You're Walking)" and "Wild Life‚" distorted bass lines serve as a lone reliable constant that all those ideas ricocheting off the barn walls can cling onto. Since the songs on Tropical Barn are devoid of any formulaic sound structure‚ the bass is effective in guiding each song in a unified direction even when anarchy surrounds it. The second half of Tropical Barn skews mellow‚ and loses some of the momentum built by the opening tracks (tracks like "Too Close‚" an early standout that captures the band's energy particularly well). The slower songs themselves could be engaging in a different format‚ but undoubtedly some of the music's nuances get lost in barn tape form. Still‚ there's a lot of promise in these nine tracks‚ making Tropical Barn well-worth a visit.
Tropical Barn is available digitally here‚ and will be released on cassette by Nomadic Behavior Records on 3/18.