If forced to make a wild guess about where and when this album was recorded after a blind listen, you might say somewhere in the Twin Cities around 1995. As it turns out, Bar Tape are currently a band from Dublin, Ireland, but consist entirely of ex-pats from the US. Perhaps because they don’t sound Irish at all, or because my raging ADHD didn’t allow me to digest the final 25% of their Bandcamp header “Bar Tape: Dublin, Ireland”, I assumed they were from Dublin, Ohio. I like to treat every review as a geographical learning opportunity, so I started reading up on the Columbus suburb while listening to these songs. It’s no longer relevant, but that’s where Wendy’s has its headquarters. The depths of Dublin, Ireland’s history is far too heavy to be trivialized by the opening paragraph in an online punk review, so we’ll leave that one alone too.
I’d be doing Bar Tape a disservice if I didn’t first talk about how excellent the band members’ punk names are. On vocals/guitar we have Cory Hotline, which is a reference to a golden age Simpsons episode that they also sample before one of the songs. On guitar we have Barry Tape. Classic. On drums/vocals we have Colin Sick, which has to be one of the greatest punk names of all time. Lastly, on bass/vocals we have Juvenile Delinquent, which strikes me as funny because there’s no effort in word play whatsoever.
I’d like to think there’s a fun story here as to why an American punk band moved to Ireland, but the only thing I could find about them aside from the music was a one question interview from Scene Point Blank. In it Cory Hotline says, “I figure if we were around 20 years ago, we’d be more popular. We’re still delighted with the reaction we’ve received from Irish punks/hardcore kids and rockers, despite the lack of local press.” It’s funny to think of this sound as retro now, but I guess it is, and I guess we’re all old. I read somewhere (there will be no footnotes, so please don’t look for them) once where Paddy from D4 talked about how his Ramones were Naked Raygun. That’s the type of pop punk we’re talking about here.
Any one of Sara Kirsch’s early 90s projects mixed together with Dillinger Four seems like a fair comparison, or maybe Sludgeworth meets Shang-A-Lang. Another old Minneapolis band Man Afraid also comes to mind. Like all those bands, Bar Tape makes sing along punk songs full of hooks that also manage to sound hard. The production is raw, but in a special way an old Ebullition 7″ with a photocopied sleeve is. I wouldn’t say anyone in the band knows how to sing, but nobody is over-fabricating a contrived punk voice to make up for it. The vocalists sound like Sarah Kirsch on those early Pinhead Gunpowder and Fuel records, which I love. Mix that together with the awesome rawness of Shang-A-Lang, the leads of Sludgeworth, and the power of Man Afraid, and you have yourself a record you should probably get your hands on.
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