If that's movin' up, then I'm movin' out

I'll cut to the chase; Watch the Tapes has moved to Wordpress! Past posts have all been imported, there's a snazzy new layout, and from this point on all new posts will be there. This Blogger address will not be taken down, so you should keep it bookmarked just in case the shit ever hits the fan with too many DMCAs or what-not, but ALL updates will now take place on Wordpress, so update your bookmarks and/or RSS feeds!

I repeat, all new posts will now be on the Wordpress address.

The new blog can be found here; see you there!

Au revoir, Blogger!



long way, but you'll get there

stay tuned for something
or nothing


Peter Gabriel - Peter Gabriel (Security) (1982)

"Still the warmth flows through me / and I sense you know me well / It's only common sense / there are no accidents 'round here"

Whereas the previous album Melt is his most coherent self-titled, the fourth and final album of the set is largely formless and oblique. For Security, Gabriel eschewed his rock roots almost entirely, fully immersing himself in the burgeoning field of electronic music with extensive use of synthesizers and samples, as well as the decision to record the entire album digitally (which at the time was almost unheard-of). The songs here are nebulous, seamless electronic experiments, and while there are some moments of more traditional prog to be found, for the most part this release is far removed from what listeners expect from Peter Gabriel. Security is not an album for everyone, to be sure; but for the dedicated listener it can be thoroughly rewarding. What could have easily been a clumsy attempt to aimlessly tread new ground instead ended up as a subtle, nuanced venture into territory that Gabriel had been quietly charting out on his previous albums. His years of experimentation with incorporating these sounds into rock music left him well-off to successfully take the next step, right off into the deep end. Security is an abstract, haunting and consistently beautiful piece of work that deserves just as much attention as its more accessible precursors.

1. The Rhythm of the Heat
2. San Jacinto
3. I Have the Touch
4. The Family and the Fishing Net
5. Shock the Monkey
6. Lay Your Hands on Me
7. Wallflower
8. Kiss of Life

Try It

Previous Posts:
Peter Gabriel (Melt)
Peter Gabriel (Scratch)
Peter Gabriel (Car)


Peter Gabriel - Peter Gabriel (Melt) (1980)

"You know I hate to hurt you / I hate to see your pain / but I don't know how to stop"

The third Peter Gabriel album shows him retreating both from his past in Genesis as well as from the commercial, accessible sound that he embraced on his first two solo efforts. Melt is instead a dark, aggressive, unsettling album that tells stories of break-ins, political assassinations and intense mental decay. This release features his old bandmate Phil Collins on drums and backing vocals, and it's the first time Collins experimented with his gated reverb technique of pounding, punchy drums without any use of cymbals, which lends itself very well to an album like Melt. It also has Gabriel delving further into the realm of electronic rock music, which at the time was still in its infancy. Of all Gabriel's self-titled albums, this is easily the most coherent and consistent of the bunch. If you have to choose one to listen to, it should be Melt. If you're not convinced after listening to "No Self Control", well, you're a lost cause.

1. Intruder
2. No Self Control
3. Start
4. I Don't Remember
5. Family Snapshot
6. And Through the Wire
7. Games Without Frontiers
8. Not One of Us
9. Lead a Normal Life
10. Biko

Try It

Previous Posts:
Peter Gabriel (Scratch)
Peter Gabriel (Car)


Peter Gabriel - Peter Gabriel (Scratch) (1978)

"I need perspective, I don't trust my eyes"

On Gabriel's second eponymous album, Robert Fripp moves up to the title of producer, and also plays guitar on half the tracks and uses his Frippertronics looping technique on "Exposure". While this record still likes to toe the line between prog and pop, it falls more often on the side of prog. Scratch is perfectly unfocused, meandering through rock, electronics, and even a little bit of reggae on "A Wonderful Day in a One-Way World", with Gabriel's obtuse lyrics managing to strike a personal chord - even if it's not one that you can quite put a finger on. It's not quite as accessible as its predecessor, but despite its experimentation and free-wheeling, it's still a pop album at heart, never passing up an opportunity to pull you in with a catchy hook or infectious keyboard rhythms, seen prominently in the closing of "White Shadow", which is the centerpiece of the album. All four of his self-titled releases are absolutely worth the time of day, but this one might just be my favorite.

1. On the Air
2. D.I.Y.
3. Mother of Violence
4. A Wonderful Day in a One-Way World
5. White Shadow
6. Indigo
7. Animal Magic
8. Exposure
9. Flotsam and Jetsam
10. Perspective
11. Home Sweet Home

Try It

Previous Posts:
Peter Gabriel (Car)


Peter Gabriel - Peter Gabriel (Car) (1977)

"When illusion spin her net / I'm never where I want to be / and liberty she pirouette / when I think that I am free"

Shortly after leaving Genesis in 1976, Peter Gabriel recorded a string of four self-titled albums between 1977 and 1982, all of which are generally referred to by what image is on each of their respective covers; given the short length of time for that transition to take place, it makes sense that these albums (and this first one in particular) sound strikingly similar to Genesis's work during that period, but there are certainly pronounced differences. With the stigma of being part of a progressive rock band no longer hanging over him, Gabriel was free to make music that, while certainly having some of the trademark bombast of prog, as well as experimentation with electronic music (it was recorded by Robert Fripp, after all) and large orchestration, was remarkably poppy and concise for an artist who not too long before was writing massive rock operas. Depending on how you look at it, Car is either a brilliant example of accessible, digestible, yet still immensely respectable prog rock or a boundary-pushing pop album that still sounds fresh and resilient over 30 years later. Either way, it's not something you should pass up on.

1. Moribund the Burgermeister
2. Solsbury Hill
3. Modern Love
4. Excuse Me
5. Humdrum
6. Slowburn
7. Waiting for the Big One
8. Down the Dolce Vita
9. Here Comes the Flood

Try It


Nada Surf

Nada Surf is a band that has been sadly overlooked for their entire career, save the success of a few scattered singles ("Popular" and "Always Love", mostly). They've been quietly churning out quality alt rock albums for over a decade, carried along by the commitment of their small-but-dedicated fanbase (they have far more listeners in Europe than in their own country, and do occasionally sing in French). This three-piece New York group started out as a powerpop, perhaps pop-punk setup with the release of High/Low, and while this sound always has a place on subsequent albums, they've largely shifted towards a more mellowed out indie rock style, with lush instrumentation and often sobering moods. Their lyrics are what attract many people; sometimes bordering on cheesiness but never sounding anything less than totally heartfelt, they bring a unique sincerity and a sense of maturity to an otherwise-typical sound.

Their masterpiece, as most people (myself included) will agree, is Let Go, which feels like a sister release to the equally-great Proximity Effect, and has tracks like "Killian's Red" and "Paper Boats" which would be classics in a better world. Their albums are all wonderful, however, and deserve a place in the collection of any music fan. I've gathered together what I believe to be an almost-complete collection of their work, including the final link which is just an unofficial thing I put together of some odds-and-ends, so this post should be helpful to newbies or longtime listeners. As always, don't forget to support this great band if you like what you hear.


"I'm only safe when I'm dreaming"
High/Low (1996)

"I still say your name when I don't feel right / just like I used to"
The Proximity Effect (1998)

"I'm just a happy kid / stuck with the heart of a sad punk"
Let Go (2002)

"Oh, fuck it / I'm gonna have a party"
The Weight is a Gift (2005)

"Everyone's right, and no one is sorry / that's the start and the end of the story"
Lucky (2008)


"Let's have a day outside for the lonely / they're gonna cry tonight"
Karmic EP (1995)

"We didn't know Jackie O"
North 6th Street (1999)

Live in Brussels (2004)

The Myspace Transmissions (2008)

Rare Tracks

Where is My Mind? (Pixies cover) (from "Always Love" single)
Born Curious (from "Always Love" single)
Popular (Live) (from "Deeper Well" single)
Everybody Lies (Acoustic) (from "Deeper Well" single)
Pressure Free (from "Popular" single)
Oh No (from "Popular" single)
Black & White (The Proximity Effect bonus track)
Why Are You So Mean to Me? (from original release of The Proximity Effect)
No Quick Fix (from European release of Let Go)
Run (Let Go bonus track)
Blue Monday (Live)
Popular (Acoustic)
L'aventurier (Indochine)

"And if I'm waiting for nothing / what am I doing?"


Margot & the Nuclear So and So's - The Dust of Retreat (2006)

"Cause love is an inkless pen / it's a tavern, it's sin / it's a horrible way to begin"

Margot & the Nuclear So and So's make folksy chamber pop, somewhat in the vein of Arcade Fire, but with a much more quaint approach; while there are moments where the band aims for something higher, something a little more universal, such as the opening track "A Sea Chanty of Sorts", the real reason to love this album is for the acoustic soul-baring that dominates most of their sound; they remain firmly tethered to earth, not letting themselves get carried away with bombast or pretension; it's a personal, authentic, genuine album that the 'indie rock' world needs more of

Try It


The Go! Team - Thunder, Lightning, Strike (2004)

"We came here to rock the microphone / while Dave breaks the record down to the bone"

Feeling more lo-fi, as well as more self-assured than their second album, the Go! Team's debut is still an instant party album; with samples from westerns, cop shows, and everything from 60s pop and funk to late 70s hip-hop, Thunder, Lightning, Strike is an irresistibly retro piece of dance music canon; this album is covered in a rose-tinted nostalgic fog for an era that draws a sharp contrast from the one we live in today, sounding like the soundtrack to a never-made 1983 action show, with all the car chases, sword fights, fearlessness and optimism intact

Try It

Previous Posts:
Proof of Youth


Under the Influence of Giants - Under the Influence of Giants (2006)

"Meet me in the clouds / let me work it out / don't you take it personal"

You probably haven't found yourself wishing you could find a band who spends too much time listening to their old Bee Gees records, but if you have, you're in luck with Under the Influence of Giants; this self-titled debut isn't exactly a disco album (some tracks are though, especially the semi-hit single "Mama's Room"), but more of an indie pop release with lots of synths and smooth, new wave-ish grooves layered under high-pitched vocals about love affairs and sex; there hasn't been much news about this band's activities since 2006, and it's generally assumed that they're unofficially broken up, and their members have embarked on a number of solo projects (which their myspace is pretty much solely a vehicle to promote, at this point)

Try It


Captain Wilberforce - Everyone Loves a Villain (2008)

"There are worse things than ghosts, you know / haunting these streets"

I'm always cautious to use the term britpop, because it seems to have some conflicting connotations for different people; regardless of any of that, it certainly applies to this release by power pop singer-songwriter Captain Wilberforce, if only insomuch as this is a pop rock album from Britain with alternative leanings; encapsulating tales of dysfunctional and failed relationships (surprise surprise) in tidy three-to-four-minute packages, and always bringing back memories of the nation's pop greats without forgetting to be his own artist, Captain Wilberforce has made an album that reassures us that pop music can recall the past, can even dance around with it, and manage not to drown in nostalgic hero-worship

Try It


Hey Ocean! - Stop Looking Like Music (2006)

With songs like "The Beatboxer who Broke My Heart" and "Eskimo Kisses", Hey Ocean! have made a collection of lovestruck, endearing (indie) pop tunes with jazzy, genial female vocals that are surprisingly powerful coming from a little white Canadian girl; you'd be hard-pressed to find a more charming album than this, but at the same time, there's a forcefulness present here that commands your attention and makes sure you can't write this off as "just another pop album"

Try It


Stationary Odyssey - Sons of Boy (2009)

Here's the newest full-length from Stationary Odyssey, a DIY two-piece from the midwest that makes what most easily falls under the blanket term of post-rock; however, this music feels much more...alive, perhaps, than that term usually implies, because whether they're experimenting with trip-hop, punk, and electronic, or letting their folksy overtones flourish, there's always a lot going on with this group; there is no lazing around with uninspired buildups and unsatisfying crescendos to be found here

Link taken down by request

Preview: "Rib Letters"

Previous Posts:


The Weathered Underground (Film)

And now for something completely different.

I wouldn't normally post something like this, but it was sent to me and I find it to be an interesting little idea. The Weathered Underground is a film coming out sometime in late January. It's an interactive film, meaning you decide what happens next. It features hundreds of choices to be made and over thirty different endings, so it's sure to be a unique viewer experience. It's the story of a nasty, nasty breakup, and the film looks to have an engaging plot as opposed to just being a silly gimmick. Keep an eye out for it!

The interactive trailer (yes, even the trailer lets you pick what to do) can be viewed here.


Mixtape: Happy Valentine's Day

A few weeks ago, a reader asked me to make a 'heartbreak mix'. As I told them at the time, I'd actually had one bouncing around in my head for some time, so I soon set out to getting it out on paper. I finished this a couple weeks ago, and I've been dying to post it. I do think that this can be called a heartbreak mix, but it might not be quite what you expect.

I think there's a feeling of disappointment, rather than one of sadness or defeat, running through this. It feels like the loss of naivete. The realization that things don't always work out how you want them to. The acceptance that sometimes, there's just nothing to be done.

Then again, sometimes there is. Sometimes things do work out. Sometimes there's something to be said for naivete.

I'll let you decide.

Title: Happy Valentine's Day
Length: 1:14:46

Side 1: Your Good Friend

1. Alkaline Trio - "Enjoy Your Day"
2. John Mayer - "Kid A"
3. Letting Up Despite Great Faults - "Sun Drips"
4. Beck - "It's All in Your Mind"
5. Architecture in Helsinki - "Untitled"
6. Bad Religion - "Sorrow"
7. Get Set Go - "Ordinary World"
8. Bird by Bird - "Heavy Eyelids (Acoustic Demo)"
9. Nada Surf - "Always Love"
10. Michael Leviton - "Summer's the Worst"
11. The National - "Ashamed of the Story I Told"

Side 2: We're So Young and Insane

1. The Beatles - "I Want to Tell You"
2. Elliott Smith - "Alameda"
3. Metric - "Help, I'm Alive"
4. Bishop Allen - "The News From Your Bed"
5. Radiohead - "True Love Waits"
6. Bad Religion - "Sorrow (Acoustic)"
7. Say Anything - "I Want to Know Your Plans"
8. Vampire Weekend - "I Think Ur a Contra"
9. Coffee & Cigarettes Band - "That's the Way"
10. You, Me, and Everyone We Know - "I Can Get Back Up Now"