Tashaki Miyaki - The Dream

by Jeff Penczak Rating:10 Release Date:2017-04-07

L.A. narcoleptic shoegazers, Tashaki Miyaki (a giggly mispronunciation of Japanese cult director Takashi Miike) have been trickling out one stunning release after another for over six years (albums, EPs, singles), but this is their “official” debut album and it’s a right corker. Long fascinated by the work of genius cinematic composers like Ennio Morricone and Angelo Badalamenti, the album is bookended by two languid instrumentals (‘LAPD Prelude’ and ‘Finale’, plus a 5½ minute "full version" as a bonus track) that could easily settle comfortably in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks revamp due next month on US telly. (In fact, they’re my first choice to cover ‘Just You’ (aka ‘James’ Song’) should the opportunity present itself. Their uncanny ability to completely deconstruct classics by artists as diverse as the Everly Brothers, Roxette, Waylon Jennings, Buzzcocks, and Berlin is brilliantly realized across two Under Cover collections, available free from their Bandcamp site.)

The slower-than-molasses trawl of the epic ‘City’ will immediately garner comparisons with Mazzy Star and Velvet Underground (drumming vocalist Paige Stark has got Mo Tucker’s minimalist snare tap down to a science), while guitarist Luke Paquin helps us forget his Hot Hot Heat! heritage by bathing us in swathes of Neil Youngish sludge. The band’s Young fixation bleeds all over the ‘Cinnamon Girl’-ish single ‘Girls On T.V.’, which namechecks Kurt Cobain (perhaps not coincidentally, the album is released two days after the 23rd anniversary of Cobain’s suicide) and Paquin tosses in some razor sharp guitar slashing that’ll do JAMC axe wielder William Reid proud.

Badalamenti and Lynch pop up again in the concurrently released single ‘Out Of My Head’, a jolly little countrified toe-tappin’ ditty that sounds just like one of their Julee Cruise dreamweavers sprinkled throughout the early seasons of Twin Peaks. Stark’s Spectorish wall-of-sound production accentuates her breathy, twangy vocal inflections which come at you in a sensational, sense-around overload that’ll have you thinking the walls in your room have each turned into floor-to-ceiling speakers. It’s a warm and cozy feeling that continues throughout – sort of like The Yearning’s Maddie Dobie Siamese twinned with Dum Dum Girl, Kristin Gundred/ Welchez/Kontrol/Dee Dee (or whoever she’s calling herself this week).

But Stark can also exercise control and restraint and come across like that cute girl next door when she coos ‘Anyone But You’, or reaches back into her bag of cinematic tricks for previously-released single ‘Cool Runnings’ (think Jamaica bobsledding!) And then there’s “that song” – the one that’ll have you digging out your old Mazzy Star albums swearing you’ve heard it before. And you did, only it’s not Hope and David, it’s the one that broke hearts around the world and introduced me to the band via its use in Subaru’s ‘First Day of School’ ad. It’s the perfect marriage of yearning, sentimentality, and nostalgia and it should come with its own box of tissues! They’ve recorded several versions (a couple are on their eponymous 2011 EP), but this one sounds like a fresh take, and the Stark-orchestrated/arranged strings and tinkling vibes are guaranteed to rip your heart out.

The album ends with more new renditions of highlights from that debut EP, and both (‘Get It Right’ and ‘Somethin’ Is Better Than Nothin’) are among their finest recordings, bringing their career full circle, joining old favourites with new exciting directions that flesh out their sound and fulfill that early promise of great things to come. Easily the album of the year so far.

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