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Tangiers - Hot New Spirits

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Artist: Tangiers

Album: Hot New Spirits

Label: Sonic Unyon

Review date: Jun. 2, 2003

Elbows & Crunch

With respect to the resuscitation of nihilistic garage-style punk, this debut from Toronto-based Tangiers seems to be the square peg that just might fit. Indie music has seen its poster children in recent years, some of whom have shot into almost immediate international recognition, and some, at the other end, who wallow where they should remain – in the garage. What, if anything, becomes of Tangiers has yet to be determined; though they seem for now to be resting comfortably in the middle.

There is no doubt that Tangiers is shuddering at the numerous Rolling Stones references coming their way, but anyone familiar with 70’s rebel rock is going to hear the influence – a reveling essence of urban culture clash examined with boyish acuity. Hot New Spirits tells its own hurried story using brief, memorable slices of the bigger olive loaf, peppered with inculcating beats and crunch chord enthusiasm. Singing duties rotate among the three guitarists, all of which provide backup vocals throughout. Their lyrics make Sybil seem like a realist, from irresolute declarations of love to youthful indecision in the face of revelry. The group rolls about the floor on “Shoestrings,” a tune largely about, well, shoes, neatly tied with an almost-fuzz guitar solo. Sandwiched between the punchy insurgence of “One Thousand Hands” and the defiantly resigned “Kiss My Lips” is the mighty catchy “Eyes Shut,” an identity-making number propelled by bass and stop-time hooks. Falsetto harmonies run the chorus prior to a bridge seemingly inspired by the Lucy Show (the band, not the redhead), complete with a moody, understated intercourse between the two guitars. “Anxiety” is a welcome bit of paranoid schlock with the repeated useless assertion: “Anxiety is taking over me / So much pressure / It’s getting to me.” Those lines, so shallow and persistent, are a perfect reflection of garage rock's inherent narcissism. The band beats it up with strong pop awareness and abundant twists without compromising any of the music’s ideals or potency.

With all of these seemingly perceptible attributes, it would be difficult to pinpoint a message – Tangiers may not be trying to deliver one at all. The coherency is in their sound which, like any good read, leaves plenty of room for interpretation but no measure of certainty. Whatever it is they want to be about, Tangiers clearly have a killer time on record and Hot New Spirits are the better for it. No brooding here. It’s infectious – play it loud.

By Alan Jones

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