Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin - Tape Club (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin

Tape Club (2011)

Polyvinyl Records

Springfield, Miss. indie pop band Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin has been a favorite of mine for years. As a group of friends who have been playing music together for over a decade, they have amassed plenty of material despite only putting out three full-lengths. Tape Club is a collection of demos and outtakes from a band who record as they write. The recordings span from 2002 to 2009 and from locations such as "Phil's mom's house" to Smart Studios with Chris Walla. But for the most part, these are not studio-recorded and polished "demos" a la Against Me!/Fat's cash-grab releases, these are a bunch of excited young guys documenting newly-written songs on their own. The rawness is real; the love is palatable. Any true fan of the band needs this record.

People who loved Broom will dig this collection especially hard. It takes the band back to their shy-rock (patent pending) era, with Phil Dickey and John Robert Cardwell doing their best Elliott Smith impressions over nylon-string strums on a many of these tracks. "The Clod and The Pebble" is the earliest, but it still shows the band's Broom-era style already taking shape.

There are a bunch of significantly different versions of album cuts throughout this collection. "Back in the Saddle," recorded in Phil's basement, starts similar but then the tempo and feel are way different as the drums kick in. With hot handclaps, clean guitar-tones and child-like shouting, it rules in different ways. We get to see "Phantomwise" in its infancy as a hushed one-minute, lo-fi nugget and can appreciate fully the rocking tune it eventually became. "Dead Right" is closer to completion in demo form, but is still a good inclusion with different guitar tones/details and vocal feel. "Cardinal Rules" (previously released as a Let it Sway" bonus track) is well worth inclusion. The song was recorded in the "yoga studio/basement" of the mayor of Springfield's house and is about their local minor league team the Cardinals. It includes the chant, "We're goin' downtown! / Springfield, right!" with a ton of people shouting along and an in-your-face keyboard hook. Some songs from seven-inch releases are collected here too, and songs like "We Can Win Missouri" and "Not Worth Fighting" are well worth the wider-release.

But there are tons of unheard songs as well. The single released prior to this collection was "Yellow Missing Signs," an odd minor-key electronic track from the group. Over thumping drum machines and blooping synths, Phil Dickey's signature wispy vocals are echoed and reverbed more than usual as he tells the tale of "the Springfield Three," young women that went missing in 1992 and were never found. It escapes me how a song as rocking and catchy as "Lower the Gas Prices, Howard Johnson" could have been left off of a full-length. Others are a little more out of left field but enjoyable, like "Sweet Owl" and "Chili Cookoff," which both feature Phil's sister Roni on clarinet, and the later sounds all chill, smothered in tape hiss. "Song 1000" is super-fun and scrappy, complete with distorted humming melodies all over it.

Like most collections of this sort, Tape Club is aimed at die-hards. Those new to the group would be better served getting a proper album; Pershing is my favorite. But for fans Tape Club is a must-have, showcasing what makes this band so fantastic and fun and pure.