Reviews for [RL82]
Mormon Toasterhead "Summer"
- Cassette Love
Musical Content: For those of us who grew up in the 80s and 90s, the four track was the shrine of bedroom musicians and wanna-be musicians. Before computer-based recording became cheap and common, people made quaint recordings in their homes and maybe shared them with friends. Once they “upgraded” to computer systems, everything changed, and recordings became more perfect. Which is one of the reasons the recent boom in cassette culture is so polarizing. People ask why one would “downgrade” the sound quality. But this style of recording requires good ideas to succeed. Countless “undos” and a low noise floor are not important. Which brings us to this gentle and inspiring tape from Mormon Toasterhead, aka Ben Klawans. While the recording medium is unknown, it possesses the spirit of indie 4-track music.
There are quiet acoustic pop gems (“Places I Wish I Were”), piano interludes (“Everything at Once”), Siri-style computer recitations (“Beauty Mark”) and verby psych-folk (“Grocery Store Girls”). At times, the tape recalls Lou Barlow’s Sentridoh recordings, or Unrest’s Imperial f.f.r.r.
Packaging and Sound Quality: The C-45 tapes are home dubbed, and the sound quality is good. Full color insert printed on heavy J-Card stock.
- The Miscreant Issue #43: Cassette Essentials Volume 2 by Rafael Grafals
I've been going nuts for "Summer" ever since I first heard and haven't been able to to stop talking about it since. "Places I Wish I Were", like many of the other tracks on "Summer", is short, simple and sincere. It's a pretty stripped down song. We're greeted by the simple combination of an acoustic guitar and multiple vocal layers that are used for some absolutely gorgeous harmonies. The simplicity comes to play even in the lyricism . "Places I Wish I Were" doesn't offer too many words but the few words it does offer ("And I want to be on that hill with you/I want it more than anything/but I Can't") are extremely important. I Was discussing this album with a friend of mine and we both mentioned how it felt so perfect for a cassette release, as if it were recorded with that format in mind. I'm glad to see Rok Lok Records came through with that
- Raised By Gypsies
I’d reviewed Mormon Toasterhead twice before. The first time I was on the fence about them and then the second time I believe that I did end up writing them off. Then I saw that this tape came out, back in 2013 some time, and I thought, “Wow, that music was kind of ridiculous, why would anyone want it on a tape?”
I also was somewhat surprised to see it released on Rok Lok because they put out Squanto and White Blush on tape, two bands who I had heard prior and then thought, “Yes, I do want to hear that on cassette”. So I did wonder how something I didn’t like could get turned into a cassette when it usually seemed only to be the other way around.
This tape ended up being part of a pack of 2013 releases from Rok Lok Records because I would have neither paid for it on its own or requested a copy to review because of my prior reviews of Mormon Toasterhead.
Fortunately for me and those who put this together, I am quite happy that I got this as a tape and it is quite possibly some of the best work that Mormon Toasterhead has ever done, which I know might not seem like it’s saying a lot but this is really good.
There are audio clips, instrumental piano bits and the straight up vocals/acoustic guitar that brings to mind The Benjamins, Coheed and Cambria or Homage to Catalonia, but somehow on cassette and as whole tape of ten songs it just kind of works.
I said at one point during my first review that the music of Mormon Toasterhead was weird. I do not take that back—I do still find this to be rather weird. I do have an appreciation for the weird though and can now see how this is weird in a good way.
So thank you to Mormon Toasterhead for making this music. Thank you to Rok Lok for releasing it. Together, as a trifecta of sorts, we have come together to realize something beautiful and brilliant.