Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Heat Tape - 'Raccoon Valley Recordings'

I remember the first time I heard about lo-fi as a genre. I was talking to a young indie gal who swore up and down that it was a more honest form of songwriting. She made me a mix CD of bands to check out, and all I could hear was badly produced pop-punk. Besides, nothing will ever beat All Hail West Texas for lowest of the lo-fi. My feelings towards the genre feel even more appropriate with the introduction of Raccoon Valley Recordings by the Heat Tape, featuring Brett Hunter of the Copyrights. Here’s the proof I was looking for.

Semantics aside, Raccoon Valley Recordings is a super catchy, fun record. It basically sounds like a slower Copyrights record with grainier production but the hooks still intact [Side note: They recorded this record in Hunter’s trailer. DIY]. It’s 24 minutes of sad lyrics put to bouncy music, and that’s where the best pop-punk comes from. Tunes like “Spend It” and “Ah Ha Ah” shimmer with energy.

Perhaps the biggest departure for Hunter is the slower songs, like “Grandma’s Guns,” a tune about his grandmother’s hypothetical gun collection. Coupled with the low fidelity, the tune takes on a thundering, monolithic quality. Other tunes just feel like pop-punk songs slowed down. “Feel No Good” is propelled by the line “It’s a beautiful day for a hangover today,” and it just feels like the BPM needs to get cranked up.

Perhaps the best argument for lo-fi is that it makes pop-punk more interesting. Criticisms against the genre – infantile lyrics, repetitive song structures, overproduction – don’t apply to Raccoon Valley Recordings. The songs are economical in length and structure, but the sequencing breaks things up into a nice ebb and flow. Hunter seems to have a sense of humor about the whole thing (per the liner notes, three songs are about “being a piece of shit”), but this is the sort of modest, straightforward songwriting that always wins.

No comments: