Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Tunnels self titled on Super Secret Records

Super Secret Records sent their latest single from The Tunnels who have that laid back lush psyche throwback sound. Right away I'm thinking Velvet Underground, especially on the first track 'No Love'. A slow hypnotic vibe from slow strummed guitars and hammond style organ. Chris Catalena has this washed out buried full sounding vocals that get even better with Rachel's backup harmonies.
They stick with that mellow melody and just ride it out, this is one of those bands that has the benefit of hindsight, they take the best parts from that era's sound and put them back together in such a great way. I recognize the influences right away, but honestly I'm disappointed when I revisit some of the 13th floor elevators, that 70's psychedelic classics. I can appreciate them in context, and for originating the sound, but it's sometimes just homework to get through them and really try to go back to that time, to think about what else was going on at the same time. It's bands like The Tunnels and all the garage blues punk revisiting that's going around on numerous labels that makes me appreciate that history, but I want it filtered through now. I don't think it's been done as good as it can get. I think you can only make it better by reexamining the style, and making it sound new again. Look at Wooden Shjips, they get me excited about that era again, I still have to search for things I haven't heard... looking for that band that doesn't exist.
This vinyl sounds like I could have just pulled it from a dusty crate, it has all this history scratched into it, and I'm about to go listen to White Light White Heat again...I know it's an easy comparison, but it's the touchstone for that time period, that effected so much and for good reason. The Tunnels appreciate it too, and are making a sincere stab at giving it new life. I'm into it.
Revisionist history, these influences keep popping up, and get re categorized by The Tunnels, what if those era bands didn't get overindulgent, what if they didn't become the huge success they were, would I hear it the same way? Has everyone just told me the Velvet Underground is amazing so many times I just agree?

The B-Side 'Pretty Things' takes some time working out a melody over the swirly guitars. This time Rachel is taking lead vocals buried into the mix with layers of harmony from the rest of the band. There's a lot more interesting breakout guitar happening in this one, real warm, distorted, ugly bent sustained chords. This is also going Manchester shoegaze with the layers of guitar effects and almost unrecognizable vocals, going for that overall feeling over content.

It all keeps coming back around, now I have to go find that Ride album.

Great minimalist pop art sleeve as well, Shhhhhhhh! (available) from Super Secret Records.

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