Tape Review: The Blank Tapes, “Slow Easy Death”

Written by Album Reviews, Music

The Blank Tapes follow up this year’s acclaimed ‘Vacation’ with a low key cassette release, custom made for a lonely Saturday night.

The Blank Tapes - Slow Easy DeathThe ever-prolific Matt Adams of The Blank Tapes already released one stellar album earlier this year, the artistic triumph Vacation. However, true to his nature, Matt can’t slow down with writing and releasing song after song after song. Hence this low-key cassette and digital release, Slow Easy Death.

While the title of the album is awfully grim (appropriately enough, the tape was released on Halloween), the music isn’t nearly as dour and depressing as you might think. If anything, most of the songs collected here – recorded at various locations between 2008 and 2013 – simply share a more chilled out, detached, downcast mood than the decidedly upbeat and celebratory Vacation.

“You’re Right,” for example, opens the album with a nearly nine minute jam on a tune about relationship stresses that echoes the similarly themed and structured break-up tune “Oil & Water,” from the classic Live album. “27” is a meditation on that seemingly cursed rock n’ roll age at which a handful of legendary figures passed away (fortunately Matt passed that milestone with his heart still beating, and shows no sign of calling it quits any time soon). And elsewhere on the album, Matt’s songs seek either to console (like with “Hold On”) or to soothe, as his instrumental tunes nearly always do.

Newcomers to the Blank Tapes probably won’t find this album as engaging as Vacation, Home Away From Home, or even 2011’s similarly low key cassette release Invisible Colors. But while the songs on Slow Easy Death fall short of Matt Adams’ primo California chill-surf jams, they have their place for sure, and one could do far worse than popping this cassette into the tape deck on a lonely Saturday night.