The Heat Tape - Raccoon Valley Recordings (Cover Artwork)

The Heat Tape

The Heat Tape: Raccoon Valley RecordingsRaccoon Valley Recordings (2011)
Red Scare

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
User Rating:

Contributed by: GlassPipeMurderGlassPipeMurder
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I've been mulling over possible introductions for this review for a while now, but I think the best way to do it is start with the obvious conclusion: This is the year's best record thus far. the heat tape is fronted by Brett Hunter, the familiar voice of pop-punk darlings the Copyrights and Dear.
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I've been mulling over possible introductions for this review for a while now, but I think the best way to do it is start with the obvious conclusion: This is the year's best record thus far.

the heat tape is fronted by Brett Hunter, the familiar voice of pop-punk darlings the Copyrights and Dear Landlord. Joining him is Ben Bleyer (Conniption Fitts) and Brooks Davey of the Southern Illinois Invasive Species Strike Team (that's a thing, not a band–thanks, Google).

Essentially a song-a-day project that morphed into a band, the heat tape has all the trappings of poppy garage punk done right. Raccoon Valley Recordings was written and recorded in Brett's trailer in Makanda, Ill., a detail that seems to radiate from each track. What separates the heat tape from the smattering of crappy garage overflowing in the U.S. and Europe is that Hunter's previous pop-punk endeavors have laid the musical foundation to distinguish it from the majority, sharing only the lo-fi sensibilities and DIY recording aesthetics. the heat tape is certainly not the first band to accomplish this (the Marked Men, High Tension Wires and Scared of Chaka have all succeeded in similar ways), but it's still nice to hear garage punk that skips the slop and showcases a more mature sense of melody and musicianship.

In lieu of lyrics, the digipak includes brief annotations explaining such insights as that, though "Oh Camilla" sounds like a smitten serenade to a certain female human, the song is, in fact, about a chicken. There's a good deal of self-deprecation ("21st Century Turd", "Feel No Good", "Crackin' Up") but there's a sense of sincerity that emits from each song, making every painful concession seem genuine. The mid-tempo "4-Track Mind" could be the anthem of the album, as Hunter earnestly makes metaphor of his current condition: "The only thing left of my youth is the hiss in my four-track mind."

While "Idle Hands" is undoubtedly the catchiest song of the album (and a phenomenal closer), the best song has to be "Quotes from an Unopened Letter". As explained in the notations, the lyrics are composed of words taken directly from an unopened letter from the White County jail Hunter found in his trailer when he bought it. The heart-wrenching storytelling is compounded by the reality of the circumstances, as Hunter takes the first-person role of the anonymous author: "Grandma was the only person there for me / She testified on my behalf / It hurted me to see her cry on the stand / Right now I feel broken / I guess I just didn't try hard enough... Sometimes I wish that I was dead / I can't believe I'll never see Shelly again / The more I try, the worser I get / I guess I just didn't try hard enough."

There's a realness inherent in this record that's lost on so much of the music that comes out today. It's not necessarily the lo-fi aesthetics or the fact it was recorded in a trailer, but is probably more of a reflection thereof. It's the life of an unemployed 30-year-old in rural southern Illinois put to tape...err, heat tape. The result is the best garage punk record this side of Texas since...well, maybe ever.


People who liked this also liked:
The Menzingers - Chamberlain WaitsThe Copyrights - North Sentinel IslandJoyce Manor - Joyce ManorNothington - Borrowed TimeElway - Passing DaysThe Lawrence Arms - The Greatest Story Ever ToldBanner Pilot - Heart Beats PacificThe Holy Mess - The Holy MessAlkaline Trio - From Here To InfirmaryCobra Skulls - Agitations

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
goodfella31 (March 27, 2011)

this album got me out of bed today.

kodydan (March 27, 2011)

I may be the guy that just hop'd on the Screeching Weasel bandwagon with the release of First World Manifesto, but I can't help but add my 2 cents on this release. I fucking love The Copyrights. Every single one of their releases is something you could put on at a party full of people who have no idea about the music scene outside of the Rhianna and L'il Wayne songs their local radio station plays and nobody would be shouting out "Chaaaaaange the tunes brooo." Try it, you'll have a room full of dudes in Ralph Lauren polos head nodding in a few minutes flat. They've perfected the party punk scene that Direct Hit!, Mixtapes and many others are exploring these days. But, (back to this release).. Brett's not singing anthems about comic books, failed relationships, small town punk scenes, drinking beer or being a dude for once and it's still fucking great. What I especially love about this album is that there are no real stand-out tracks but each tune begins off the ending chords of the previous song and continues to jam out in a different direction. 4 Stars, deserves to be on several (if not all) year-end lists. I'd suggest you actually purchase this one but if these guys make too much money off this the next release may be recorded in something fancier than a double-wide. And that just wouldn't be right.

Rich27 (March 25, 2011)

Thought this was really bad.

odradek (March 25, 2011)

I like this album. I'm always a sucker for well-done garage punk, and this definitely imbues some musicianship and songwriting into the genre. However, it definitely has some flaws. It opens really well and closes even better, but to start the back half there's a few songs that I just don't like. Grandma's Guns in particular is a low point. But the main thing that's keeping me from putting it atop my album of the year list is that it's just not something I want to listen to a whole bunch of times, whereas I've played Joyce Manor's s/t (my current AOTY) upwards of 40 and was at 20 within a week of first listening.

Still a very good album, and something I'd definitely recommend.

redscare (March 25, 2011)

The Heat Tape plays with Andrew Jackson Jihad tonight (Friday) in Chicago at Beat Kitchen. Find me and you'll be rewarded with a high five.

StraightToHell82 (March 25, 2011)

So excited for this... so fucking disappointed. So terrible.

gherkin (March 25, 2011)

Really like this, probably my most listened to album of the year so far... Wasn't the new Copyrights LP due out about a year ago??

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