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Black Tambourine

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Album Review

Indie pop as concept, as lifestyle, as aesthetic — none of it came out of nowhere, and as time passes, deeper roots will be created. But Black Tambourine's work, only a clutch of singles and compilation appearances during its active lifetime, remains one of those touchstones that seem to be endlessly referred back to. It's perhaps no surprise that they've warranted a complete career overview by Slumberland not once but, with the appearance of this self-titled collection in 2010, twice. Hearing songs like the beautiful "For Ex-Lovers Only," "I Was Wrong," and "Pack You Up" again — with their feedback as hooks, rumbling rhythms, and heavily reverbed yet still strongly sung ruminations on life and love — is its own treat, though a familiar one from 1999's Complete Recordings, as well as the original releases themselves. So it's the six extras that receive the focus of attention on this disc, starting with demo versions of "For Ex-Lovers Only" and "Throw Aggi Off the Bridge" that are enjoyably scraggly if not as overwhelming as the final takes. The remaining four consist of new recordings by the original band, though they're not new songs; instead, they're selections from their irregular live sets that were never formally recorded and released at the time. The production style makes it sound like they were recorded at the same time as the rest of the disc, making it a seamless treat. Two originals, "Lazy Heart" and "Tears of Joy," kick along with all the spirit one would expect, especially the latter with its slower instrumental breaks and quicker verses, which makes for a nice contrast. The other two tracks are cover versions of Buddy Holly's "Heartbeat" and the lovely closer, Suicide's "Dream Baby Dream."


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s

The short-lived Black Tambourine endure among the truly seminal American indie pop bands of the 1980s, creating a dark, feedback-rich sound that predated the shoegazer movement of the decade to follow -- a period when the now-defunct group's members all went on to enjoy even greater recognition within the flourishing Amerindie scene. Formed in Washington, D.C., in 1989, Black Tambourine were comprised of vocals from Pam Berry and music by Velocity Girl's Archie Moore and Brian Nelson and Whorl's...
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