Tame..Tame And Quiet formed over the summer of 2004 when Aaron, Boyd and Darren came together with the intention of creating music that was unique, both to their potential audience and to themselves, challenging them to expand past their previous bands' styles and limitations. In pursuit of this goal, however unintentional, they moved forward creating music that tackled a variety of moods sometimes within the same song. While labeled everything from "weird" to "angular" to "subversively melodic" to "indie jazz" they pursued their vision culminating in the release of their first full length album in 2007. Titled "Tin Can Communicate" the album was recorded, mixed and mastered by Matthew Barnhart at the Echo Lab in Argyle, Texas during 2006.
Tame..Tame and Quiet was nominated by the FW Weekly in their annual “FW Weekly Music Awards, 2006” for
“Best Avant Garde/Experimental”
Tame..Tame and Quiet was nominated by the FW Weekly in their annual “FW Weekly Music Awards, 2007” for:
“Artist of the Year”
“Best Rock Artist”
“Best New Artist”
“Rock Song of the Year for Blank Checks on Clean Slates”
“Rock Album of the year for Tin Can Communicate”
Review: Tame...Tame and Quiet-Tin Can Communicate
(4.5 out of 5 stars) May 7, 2007
If you were to believe the local press, you might think Tame...Tame and Quiet is inaccessible, overtly complex, difficult, or even "lo fi." But listening to their record several times a day for the past week has left me wondering why anyone would draw such conclusions. Could it be the limited palate of the writers? Well, that's always a safe assumption when dealing with the local music press, and a quick look at some of the photos that accompany local features and album reviews often reveals bands with slightly bemused looks on their faces that just seem to say "Yeah, we know we're about to be completely misrepresented but hey, at least they're writing an article about us!" Yes, it's take what you can get when it comes to traditional local music journalists, but you can't completely blame the pencil pushers, seeing as how their heads are usually flooded with deadlines and thoughts of scoring a free copy of whatever soon-to-be released record they think they're above paying for. And although each little cog in the rusty guts of the music industry does serve a purpose of some kind, it's been just painful to read so many articles painting Tin Can Communicate as some kind of undecipherable slab of low budget noise, because it most certainly is not.
From the opening chords of the album, the quality and attention paid to each detail is obvious. Matt Barnhart's water-clear recording job leaves every bit of sheen on each cleanly plucked note and every bit of grime on each distorted down-stroke. It's the opposite of "lo fi," a term that is completely inapplicable when you're talking about a state of the art studio like the Echo Lab and several hundred dollars a day being tallied at the end of each session. This is no bedroom studio/apartment rocker digital hack job by any means, but is it possible that a writer could mistake a non-4/4 time signature or non-blues based guitar part as lo fi? Yes. It's possible. This kind of mistake has happened for years, but I thought most people in the Wiki Age had gotten away from it. I guess not. My point is that this is an unusually good recording for a local band, and to peg it as the opposite seems absurd. Even the CD art looks like an expensive print job, only it's missing something: the self-important gleam of a crudely designed record label logo. This means the band footed the whole bill themselves, which is increasingly less common in an era when most people are content to hustle free mp3's online (and who could blame them?). Despite the higher cost, the attention to quality and detail does say something about a band's dedication to their vision, whether there is outside cash involved or not, and I can respect that.
The music also reflects this dedication in its seemingly endless layers of texture and melody. This is an undeniably catchy record that successfully avoids the trappings of most catchy albums by taking time to sink in and allow subtleties to make an impression. Track lengths vary from about three minutes to seven and a half, and with such prog rock track times, its fairly easy to see why some people might assume it's an intimidating listen. But how intimidating can it be when hand-claps are present (as there on the track "Blank Checks on Clean Slates")? Anyway, I did worry at first about what I would make of the Tame...Tame and Quiet full length: they are an impressive live act to be sure, but there's always a feeling that the recorded document might not convey the power of their performances. And although they do seem more gentle on CD, sometimes the lighter moments are actually the highlights, as "Go Get The Ghost" in particular has a dreamy weightlessness that translates very well.
Some of the lyrical alliteration and the intricacy of the wordplay found on the album does border on being overbearingly clever at times, but even that minor complaint wears off after repeated listens. After all, the narrow "I love you/I hate you" spectrum of rock lyrics might sound a little simplistic next to all of these subtle guitar parts and shifting rhythms. The busy guitar playing found throughout the album wraps itself in tentacle-like form around every dynamic drum beat, partly out of the necessity of filling the void left by the lack of a bass player, which is something you might not have even noticed if so much hadn't been made of it. But as technically proficient as the guitar playing is, it doesn't veer into the pointless string bending showcases that you might expect from a band that obviously practices for long hours and spends up to a year working on a single song. There is no wasted space and the playing tends to be melodious and memorable, with all the avant flourishes shining through in the form of song length and time signatures more than anything else. Most of the singing and guitar playing wouldn't be out of place on a lot of popular indie rock records from the last ten years, and the well pronounced and properly finished sentences and verses remind me of some of the singing from Andy Cohen on Silkworm records, though that band's music is much different otherwise.
Tame...Tame also unexpectedly avoids most of the annoyingly meandering jazz rock trappings of their predecessors (Karate, for instance), with only the beginning of "What You Have Read" sounding like it's going to repeat itself into Chicago Post-Rock limbo just before it's saved when it all comes together, singer Aaron Bartz mumbles a line or two, and the song finally kicks in. There are smart little moments like this sprinkled throughout the album, from the unpredictable descending chord progression at the end of "Heroic As It Is" to the dramatic transitional thrust of "Cursive or Worse", probably the best composed piece of music on Tin Can Communicate. These songs have been stuck in my head for days, as much as any twee indie record, and even if this group's approach is sophisticated and devoid of any tossed-off open chord ditties, to say that there is pop songwriting technique at work here is hardly an insult.
So I'm at odds with the chorus that would try to convince you that Tame...Tame and Quiet is somehow so cerebral that they might be ungraspable. The band themselves might even disagree with me considering the last line of the opening track is the repeated declaration of "I am not for everyone." But as I listen back to the double-tracked vocals, with each word so clearly enunciated over pleasant guitar melodies that eventually pull an old Glam Rock stop/start showoff trick that I once heard on a Roxy Music album, I'm not so sure that's a valid statement.
(Rating is 4.5 out of a possible 5 stars)
CD REVIEW: Tin Can Communicate (self-released), Tame...Tame & Quiet April 6, 2007
I am often accused of having "good old day syndrome." Yeah, I think the best period of local music (hell, independent music as a whole) was the mid to late '90s...so sue me. That was a time when dissonant, jazz-influenced "math" rockers June of 44, Polvo and Hoover were ruling the indie-rock world and bands like Wiring Prank and Deadpan were doing their best to carry the local flag. But it seemed that with the death of Denton's favorite club, The Argo, so died that part of the scene.
In just 44 minutes, singer/guitarist Aaron Bartz, guitarist Darren Miller and drummer Boyd Dixon manage to both take you back to that period and push you in a direction that can be nothing other than the future. The album opens with the loopy discordant guitar lines of "I Am a French Police," which sounds more like a clinic in music theory than an actual song--but in the best way imaginable. That's not to say that TT&Q abandon melody altogether. The grooves that are hit in "What You Have Read" and "Go Get the Ghost" are first-rate head nodders at the very least. The final song, the title track, takes you on a 7:30 roller coaster ride that showcases every musical weapon in the band's arsenal.
While at times it can be a tough listen, Communicate seems to beg for your patience. The beautiful part is that it never really needs to. -Jasun Lee