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  Tender New Signs  
  Mexican Summer  
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I liked The Waves, Tamaryn's 2010 debut record. At the time i lumped them in with the nascent dreampop resurgence movement spearheaded by Beach House. I still think that was a fair comparison at the time. Tamaryn's music is hazy and distorted with lethargic female vocals heavily echoed.

On Tender New Signs, however, guitarist Rex John Shelverton really brings his A-game, playing a chiming, distorted post-punk guitar that at times reminds me of early U2, Grimble Grumble, SIANspheric, and Maurice Deebank of Felt. Anyone who has read my reviews here will know that such a blend is right within my comfort zone. And to be honest, Tender New Signs is the best album i have heard in a few years.

Shelverton's guitar is the centerpiece here, but lead singer Tamaryn is still very prominent in the mix. Her voice is husky and slow, the words drawn into a fuzzy haze by her barely audible vocal style and the slight distortion she sings through. Her voice, which is moody and distant, compliments the chiming guitar in a very 1980s way. This is kind of a retro album in that it takes a very 1980s sound and does it with better modern production.

The record starts with Shelverton's guitar light and delicate, picking along accompanied by a heavily echoed drum beat. Tamaryn's voice drifts by and I'm Gone grooves along at a decent pace. But the next track, While You're Sleeping, I'm Dreaming, rocks. Shelverton's guitar riff sounds lifted off of War and the rhythm that backs the band up moves along wonderfully with deep bass riffs. This is exactly the kind of thing i like to play loud and bounce along to while cooking dinner at my Condo. It moves along happily, but is not forceful.

And then when i think that Tamaryn have just played my favorite song by them, they top While You're Sleeping, I'm Dreaming with the next track Heavenly Bodies. Her voice really shines here as Tamaryn sings a little more forcefully, a sultry spitting out of the vocals, all buried in fuzz and deep under the whirring guitar. There is another nice bass line here, and it leads me to wonder who played the bass? Does Shelverton do that, or Tamaryn, or is there a studio bassist? Well, it really works. The pace of the song is great too, a sauntering that compliments her voice so well.

Tamaryn slow it down for No Exits which is a lethargic slow jam that would not have been out of place on the last Grimble Grumble record. But on Prizma Shelverton kicks the distortion up a notch, so that on the verses his guitar is a My Bloody Valentine-esque growl, but on the choruses the distortion parts and he plays a simple chiming riff worthy of Maurice Deebank. Another really great tune, and if you are like me and bought this on vinyl, you will sit there for a moment in the sudden silence that envelops you after Prizma fades out, ending Side A. It really works as the end to a side of a record.

Side B kicks off with Tamaryn singing at her clearest on The Garden, a song which grinds along like an old Banshees tune re-imagined with MBV guitars. It has a happy swaying beat under all the distortion. On Transcendent Blue Shelverton shows his love of Felt, starting off with a long echoed instrumental lead in that could have come off of Ignite the Seven Cannons. When the rest of the band comes in, this song remains a little sparser than the other tunes here, with her voice, the guitar, and a faint tambourine shaking.

Afterlight has some more of that Felt guitar combined with a rumbling bass riff that reminds me of Grimble Grumble. The drumming here is spastic, a scattered drumming that seems all over the place. It works nicely with the song though.

And finally the record wraps up with Violet's in a Pool, a slow song with lots of distorted guitar (almost Raveonettes-y at times) and a good head-bopping beat. This is a great end to the record, as the guitar and her voice entwine, then fade out slowly...

So yeah, i really like this. It's a great record, and Tamaryn might not be doing anything completely unique, but they do it very well. Overall, i am really impressed. This is strong record, one of the best shoegazery records i have heard in a while, and i listen to a lot of this kind of stuff.

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   Album: The Waves


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