It's not a state secret that time is precious in 2016, especially when it comes to the media that we consume. It's both the up- and down-side to having access to nearly any work of art from throughout recorded history.
These demands on our times have produced a line in the sand, as far as albums are concerned. On one side, you have the "definitive album statement" (think of Tool, and the ten years between albums for instance) and on the other, you have the independent artist, who does their thing to the best of their ability. In this case, albums are more of a sketchbook or diary, offering a glimpse into the band or musician's life.
It's up the listener to decide on which side of the line they stand. Where you land will greatly color how much you enjoy Insignifance Tames from Houston's Tact Actors.
Oddly enough, I was already thinking of the prolific Guided By Voices before reading Tact Actors list of influences, although they don't sound that much alike. Maybe it was the slightly fuzzy portrayal of catchy guitar-centric power pop, like on the title track. Tact Actor's is like Guided By Voices if they were fronted by a slightly acerbic post-punk like Jeffo Biafra or The Feelies' Glenn Mercer. This means tight, taut, tense, anxious, but whip smart new-wave-tinged rock n’ roll, for those that are unfamiliar. A slightly more good-natured Elvis Costello would be another reference point.
Tact Actors go the "throw it all at the wall and see what sticks" route of album presentation/songwriting, over the duration of Insignificance Tames' 14 tracks. It's a lengthy listen, but oddly, it never drags. Songs get in and get out, in keeping with Tact Actor's Husker Du fetish, also bringing to mind the great Wire if they were to repeat a chorus twice.
The guitars are as hook-y as a bait shop, latching in your memory for days and weeks at a time, making you reach for the repeat button. This gives the opportunity to get to know David Cotton's wordy lyrics, which can be a bit dense and daunting at first tack. The more you listen, the more you get used to Cotton's slightly reedy vocals, which is true of most of the greatest uber-prolific artists, such as The Mountain Goats.
The more you listen, the more you realize Tact Actors is a real, committed band, full of great ideas, memorable guitar hooks, and heartfelt, if slightly thin, vocals.
If you like smart pop-infused classic rock, you'll find something to love on this record. At 14 tracks, you're likely to find yourself returning to one or another, dropping a track here and there on a mix tape or playlist. Gradually, over time, you'll realize you've been listening to Tact Actors every single day, for weeks. Truly the mark of a true artist, talented pop-smiths, and further evidence that the lo-fi approach is at least AS VALID as the holy grail record, if not more so. Nothing is definitive anymore, so why not make music by, for, and about the present?
Take some time and dig into Insignficance Tames. You'll be glad you did, and are likely to find a couple of gems to jam out to.
A great start from a committed band!
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