Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Cassette Review:
The Widest Smiling Faces
"Milk Garden"
(Already Dead Tapes)

$5 //
Edition of 100 //
https://alreadydeadtapes.bandcamp.com/album/ad278-the-widest-smiling-faces-milk-garden //

Back in 2013 I did an interview with The Widest Smiling Faces via email.  Go ahead.  Click the interviews button on the home page.   You'll find it.   Now I'm not saying that some five years later it's a matter of "making it", but to think of where we both were back then (And obviously on the same page since I had the thought to do the interview and The Widest Smiling Faces were so kind as to oblige) and where we both are now is just one of those things you cannot describe.   This isn't the first time something like this has happened and hopefully it won't be the last but it's still a friendly reminder as to why I write about music.

"Milk Garden" opens with these organs and acoustic strums which make me think of Joe Cocker and specifically like we're going to begin the theme from "Wonder Years".   This could be some of the most complex folk/bedroom type of music I have ever heard.   At times it reminds me of the Flaming Lips and at other times it reminds me of The Lyndsay Diaries.    It's dreamy and full of bliss but at the same it's not poppy like a garage rock band might sound if you were to use those words to describe them.  It's not a get up and bounce around type of bliss, but more of a being outside in the sunshine type of feeling.

The songs on here will also mess with your concept of time.   There are a few instrumental songs and while most of them maintain a traditional song length the instrumental ones tend to be shorter (under a minute).   Though this doesn't always hold true as some of the songs without words are longer and some with words are shorter.   Confused yet?  I told you this was complex.    And here's where it gets even weirder.   These songs are generally slow- not as slow as you typically might expect from what breaks down to its core as being acoustic guitar + vocals and yet not as fast paced as punk either.   it's maybe a step or two above that normal pace for "this type of music".

Despite the fact that the pace moves faster and the songs are all of a normal length, they just feel long, weighty.   It's not a bad thing though.  You could have a song that's three and a half minutes and it feels like six or eight minutes.  But again, wouldn't you rather eat less and feel full than eat more and feel bloated?  The Widest Smiling Faces manages to fill you up and not have you feeling bad about it afterwards.   But still, it remains one of those audio illusions as it is one thing on paper but makes you feel something else when you're actually listening to it.

The lyrics also play a key role in this cassette.   It isn't just a matter of what is being said, it's how it's being said.   You don't hear this a lot in music because people tend to kind of not drag their words out but just kind of space them in a longer time frame than this.   It's not that it's wrapping or even singing really fast it's just that the lyrics come out in a manner where it feels like every second is important.   Again, some of these songs are instrumental and there are times when the lyrics aren't there in songs with lyrics, but again, this is also a complicated cassette.  It's just a unique delivery in the lyrics and when you hear it you will also understand.

That combination of music and lyrics is really what makes songs what they are.   When it comes to The Widest Smiling Faces, I could argue that based solely upon these lyrics you should be listening to this cassette and at the same time the argument could be made solely based on the style of the music.    Combining these two forces will have you listening to that lo-fi bedroom/voice + acoustic guitar style in a whole new light.  So expand your cassette collection, expand your favorite artist collection and most importantly expand your mind.

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