TacocaT Brings Tongue-In-Cheek Economic Riffage With NVM

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“What are you gonna do when you get out of jail?”“I’m gonna have some fun.” “What do you consider fun?” “Fun, natural fun.” -Tom Tom Club, “Genius of Love”

TacocaT’s band name derives from a palindrome – what reads forward also reads the same backwards, rocking back and forth like a giant swing, akin to an amusement park ride. That’s pretty apt for this Seattle quartet, who after releasing their own full-length debut, Shame Spiral, several EP’s and an assortment of singles, are making their virgin full-length for the Sub Pop subsidiary label, Hardly Art. NVM is chock-full of punk-pop – catchy vocal melodies, guitar hooks, a pounding rhythm section and a clever sense of humor.

NVM, a smart-aleck text reference to Nirvana’s ‘90s breakthrough Nevermind, is both a tongue-in-cheek nod and a sincere marker (at least in musical era) of where the band’s heart and soul lie, and like their namesake, influences swing back and forth from that central point.

With legendary Seattle producer and engineer, Conrad Uno behind the board (he is best known for his work with The Young Fresh Fellows, Mudhoney, The Supersuckers and The Fastbacks, among others), TacocaT get busy delivering 13 songs in the breath of 30 minutes. Brevity becomes a team motto on NVM, and the band executes a tight delivery, without losing spontaneity.

No guitar solos here, though Randall delivers plenty of economic riffage throughout (such as fuzz-slide guitar parts on “Pocketful of Primrose,” for example). Lead vocalist Emily Nokes peels off the melodies, singing and shouting in equal measure, with punk-like glee, while the rest of the band chips in with the backing vocals. Drummer Lelah Maupin and bassist Bree McKenna provide a confident rhythmical foundation. In fact, the arrangements are focused to accentuate the dominant beat of each song; a signature often employed by Lamont Dozier in his string of ‘60s Motown hit singles.

Sixties Girl Groups and bubblegum pop inform TacocaT’s brisk “Blitzkrieg Bop” pace, running parallel with bands such as The Ramones and The Muffs; it’s bubblegum punk with Riot Grrrl lyrical sentiments. The terrific “Bridge To Hawaii,” with its infectious chorus melody line, combines the start-stop punk-pop of Buzzcocks and the howling spirit of Sleater-Kinney.

It’s not often that I’m able to discuss PMS within the context of a music review, but thanks to TacocaT, NVM features a number of songs making reference to a woman’s cycle. The surf-guitar driven “Crimson Wave” (“All the girls are surfin’ the wave, the crimson wave today”) and the aforementioned “Pocketful of Primrose” (according to Lelah Maupin in a recent Rookie interview, the song is about how the drummer discovered primrose oil to aid her PMS pain) are smart, humorous and rock, told from a witty female insight.

“Psychedelic Quinceañera” is an inventive narrative of a young Latina female who fantasizes of celebrating an alternative “coming-of-age” ritual rather than the more traditional one, which she is destined for. With its faux “Spanish” chords, punctuated by crunchy, distorted guitar, guest Aham Oluo’s frenetic “Mariachi” trumpet parts (for the intro and outro), the song also explodes like a bag of pop rocks licked by a neighbor’s oversized dog.

And sure, there’s nothing revolutionary about NVM, but in the same vein as Detroit’s The Dirtbombs’ recent fun-fuzz, bubblegum-inspired Ooey Gooey Chewy Ka-Blooey!, it provides potent antidote for  shaking off the heavy coat of winter blues with pop-heavy, hip-shaking, fast rock and roll by a tight unit who know how to have fun. What do I consider fun? TacocaT, natural TacocaT.