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Videotape

This Is Disconnect


[Self-released; 2012]



By ; September 13, 2012 


Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG


With a name like Videotape, while you’d be correct to assume that this five-piece from Chicago makes callbacks to decades passed, don’t take that to mean they’re some lo-fi bedroom act whose fondness and talent lie in splicing up soundtracks to old VHS tapes. Videotape are actually a band who pay homage to the past in perhaps the most honest way possible: playing the style of music that stood tall during those times. The decade and era in focus for the band is predominantly the ’90s, where they take inspiration from numerous scenes and try out a few closely connected genres.

They start, however, in the here and now — or at least in a time closer to the present. “Static,” though a typical and easy song title for a band trafficking in the nostalgia of that era, turns out to be a chirpy and loud introduction belaying such an assumption. The guitar riff is a little twee, but the full band packs a good punch, and even skirts a sound close to The Strokes’ most boisterous stuff. From there they head into “No One” which recalls the sort of “fuck yeah” rock that Fang Island executed wonderfully on their self-titled album. Similarly, Videotape also sound like they’re having a blast, especially when they get into the instrumental section of “No One” around the two-minute mark.

Back to the ’90s, though: the band also has a blast with music that no doubt inspired them. “Walking In Circles” is a hazy acoustic-led track that echoes Pablo Honey/The Bends-era Radiohead while “Between Me & You” and “Pulling Teeth” ride shoegaze guitars. Lead singer Sophie Leigh appropriately stays inside all the music; though her voice is pleasant, it’s hard to make out her lyrics, but her melodies add another layer of instrumentation.

The album is at its best, though, when it hits the second half. Here the band experiments with more sonic effects and textures. The separation between each side, and the beginning of the more expansive material is marked by the forty-second interlude “Perennial”, which is a little pointless, but marks a flag worth pitching. The highlight of this latter side is the six-minute “Form,” which slowly builds to an cathartic crescendo from some calm dissonance. The song as a whole leaves a little to be desired, but it’s the material in between each end that’s worth hearing: the gentle buzz and trickle of guitars and Leigh’s majestic voice that finds a wonderful place between the distant cooing of Sigur Rós’ first album, and Julianna Barwick’s ethereal compositions.

This Is Disconnect is a solid debut album from a band who have managed to both raise their caps to the music they love and also sound like they’re having a good time while doing so. It’s not all perfect: the nasal guitar riff on “The Creeps” leads into a sort of play-by-numbers grunge/lite-metal exercise, and closing track “Glass Ceiling” ends the album on a strangely unresolved note. But for the most part, this ten-track effort is likeable and well-executed. On their self-titled EP from last year they seemed to play to their namesake bit more, with lo-fi instrumentation and dated bedroom effects, but here they not only move on but build upon the foundations they built. This Is Disconnect shows it can pay off to play against your name.


70%







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