A Day Late: Tadpoles—Whirlaway
September 29, 2009
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An absolute must have. Beginning with the 1-2 punch of the galloping Frances the Dancer and the heavy Lyman Bostock right through to the end, it’s a solid, smoky buffet of sonics. All Tadpoles releases were hazy gems, but on Whirlaway it all comes together to make, for me, their signature disc. If you follow Ptolemaic Terrascope or have yearned to attend Terrastock (like me …), then this has your name all over it. Comparisons don’t do justice, especially when it’s as fully baked as this, but if you get into, say, the Bevis Frond, or dreamed about a faster, fuzzier 7% Solution, then grab that dog-eared issue of the Terrascope, get out some snacks and have a seat. It’s time to go for a ride.
Many of the neo-psych groups your assailed with rely on coughing up old touchstones from some simulacrum of pastoral, quirky Englishness. Tadpoles get their cue not from the English fields or their misty woods, but rather from some musty hillock buried in the garage that’s been drip fed Nuggets. The Tadpoles are decidely American. And that sets them apart by rooting Whirlaway in good old rock. It smokes. Or rather it’s in a state of perpetual slow-burn. That rough, deceptively shambolic rock base and a firm grasp of melody set them apart from wandering noodling contemporary minstrels. No twee, whispy vocals here either. The often cracking vocals and semi-impenetrable lyrics coupled with the smoky, druggy guitars and bubbling bottom-end give the whole affair a very natural, organic weave. You can digest Whirlaway just as surface candy if you want, but if you go in for the long haul, the payback is far more filling: consumate musicianship, great production and mix, stellar layering of details, good drawn out crunchy rock and a throbbing locomotion gauranteed to see you all the way over to the other side. And they’ll get you there without relying on the ferryman to get you across the river. Tadpoles will drive you there themselves. In a GTO. Even if they promise a Horse and Buggy at the finish line.