Tuesday, May 6, 2008

John Thill - The Sluts [JK Tapes]

This tape is probably my favorite of the last batch to come from the JK Tapes emporium. I’d never heard of John Thill before (or after) and with a name like The Sluts I couldn’t help but worry it would be harsh noise of the shitty variety. How wrong I was. Remember kids never judge a tape by its title, you might regret it.
So what was actually on the tape? Pleasantly disturbing (or maybe disturbingly pleasant) sounds of a singer-songwriter recording in his bedroom. Each side of the tape has three tracks, the first of which is the title track. After a brief high note riff, guitar and voice pour out of the speakers like the loudest purr or quietest roar you’ll ever hear and it sounds absolutely killer! I hope this guy keeps recording with whatever magical boombox/recording device he uses, cause the poor quality causes his voice and guitar to blend into soft, slightly murky waves of sound. It’s pretty fucking beautiful to my ears. Anyway the first track is over too fast and without even stopping his recorder Thill launches into the next song “The Poses”. He’s singing about a girl I think but I can’t really make out the lyrics. That doesn’t really matter cause the best part is when it ends with an elegant wordless refrain. That one is way too short as well and pretty soon we’re on the third track “The Good Men”. It sounds like maybe he did some voice overdubbing on this one and it has a nice chorused effect. But seriously the track is like a minute long, it’s over before it starts. I need more John. The real nice thing about this tape is Thill just has an intuitive knack for the way melody works and how voice and instruments interact without falling into any conventional traps.
The second side is stronger and more developed, beginning with probably the best song on the tape, “Vow”. The lyrics are much clearer in this track and really sexually explicit causing me to wonder what I am missing on the previous side. He does some more vocal overdubs on it too, and they are all a little bit offbeat which adds a nice pseudo-panning effect to the track. “Webcam” lets the guitar take the spotlight a bit with an extended intro alternating between two melodic sections which are referred to and developed wonderfully into an outro at the end. The finale “The Divorce” has a bit of a mid-90s alt rock vibe to me though, I could never explain to you why. There are some weird, atmospheric effects and whatnot overdubbed which contrasts nicely with the strongly defined songwriting of the track.
Though the tape is billed as a c25 it’s a bit shorter than that unfortunately. Though, since its pretty much infinitely replayable—especially the second side, the short runtime means you get to listen to it that many more times. I’m gonna keep my ear to the pavement and watch for more of Thill’s stuff. The tape comes packaged in typical JK Tapes fashion, with a labeled tape and a foldover j-card with a vaguely southwestern Indian vibe. It's sold out at source as everything from JK Tapes always is but there’s probably a few copies floating around distros so check there if yr interested. You should be.

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