(Ongakubaka Records, 2015)
Well this is good news – I was just thinking about dusting off my Nuggets MP3s (yes, sooooorrrRRY!), but now I don’t have to do any of the heavy lifting that box set shuffling entails. I’m free from those shackles, baby! Because I got this here new Tailbreakers tape from Ongakubaka Records to tide me over for at least a half hour, and there’s no way I’m dealing with iTunes metadata instead. Take me away from this digital file hell, little tape!
Ugh, I just read that last paragraph. I’m a jerk.
Anyway – what, you like Nuggets too? Good. Because you’ll also like The Tailbreakers. Formed in 2014 in the rock-and-roll hotbed of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, these lovable scamps hearken back to that more innocent time of tube amps and live-to-tape album recording with their self-titled debut. That’s right, I’m talking about the late 1960s psychedelic rock boom, when long hair and beards meant something, man! When it was OK to name a honky-tonk leadoff track “Boneshaker” and not be completely tongue in cheek because the tune was good! When you could drop a lead single like “Electric Monkey” and everybody would wiggle around in their bellbottoms just because they could totally feel it! When you could snuggle up without the aid of a fireplace or blanket on a cold winter night because the bass tones like the one that opens “Primitive” were so warm!
Those were the days (I was not yet born, btw). And now, these are also the days, because The Tailbreakers’ self-titled album is bringing all this back, and more. If you were going to mention the direct ancestors, then the 13th Floor Elevators or early, Safe as Milk–era Beefheart quickly overtake the conversation. It’s a conversation that I’m ready and willing to have – I’ve recently been spinning quite a lot of Safe as Milk, so at least me and The Tailbreakers are on the same page. (Now watch them tell me they’ve been listening to Pink Floyd or something, and blow my superior intuition right out of the water. But I bet I’m not wrong.)
It’s difficult for me to not simply write this whole review as a hyperbolic ode to the pioneering spirit of the 1960s psychedelic garage rockists, celebrating an era when purity of spirit flowed through the songs penned by musical wizards. That essence clearly runs in the aquifers of Canada’s greatest city, where no amount of fluoride treatment or filtration can dilute its magnificent power. The Tailbreakers have drunk of this elixir and let its concentrated form flow through their bodies and minds, out through their hands and fingers and mouths, and, with guitars and drums and microphones as their mediums, into our ears and down into our hearts. That is where the true rock-and-roll spirit lies, baby, so raise your fist high and let the freak flag fly. Or something like that. But listen to this tape – it’ll make you feel good!
RIYL: Nuggets, The Donkeys, Black Mountain, The Brian Jonestown Massacre