The Best Band You Aren’t Listening To
Listening to the California-based shoegaze band, Tamaryn, often makes you feel like you’re on drugs. The rich, expansive production coupled with Tamaryn’s haunting vocals adds up to this sweet, delectable haze for the mind, body, and soul that’s not unlike taking a Xanax or smoking some potent weed. You know when people say dorky things like, “OMG, I love getting lost in this band’s music!” and you’re like, “Yeah, sure, uh-huh. How does one ever really get “lost” in music?” Well, after I listened to Tamaryn’s album, The Waves, I finally understood what that meant. When that record ended, I felt like I needed a map just to get back to reality.
Tamaryn’s first record came out in 2010 on the label Mexican Summer — a time when lo-fi was reaching its apex as a genre and it seemed like everywhere you looked, there was a new band drenched in reverb that was singing about lazy days at the beach. At first glance, Tamaryn’s music appeared to be no different than what was currently trending. Critics described them as being fuzzy and dreamy and summer daze and bedroom lo-fi etc. etc. etc. After listening to their song “Sandstone,” however, I knew that they didn’t deserve to be lumped into that category. First of all, their music wasn’t even lo-fi. On the contrary, it’s as hi-fi as it can get. You can hear everything with a crystal clear precision, which indicates that Tamaryn and her bandmate Rex John Silverton are no dummies when it comes to production. Every sound on The Waves feels deliberate, like it was belabored over for months. With lo-fi, there’s a certain level of thoughtlessness that goes into the music. Everything feels very D.I.Y. and patched together. The Waves is the opposite of that. That album sounds like blood, sweat, and tears.
When I first heard Tamaryn’s music, I was an intern at Interview magazine and part of my job description was to find new bands for the magazine to cover in their Agenda section. I loved it because I would just spend my days scouring websites for new music, which is something I did in my spare time anyway. When I came across Tamaryn, I was immediately drawn to them. In my gut, I knew this band was special before I even pressed play. After I fell down a very long k-hole with their music, I harassed my boss to cover them for the next issue but she was like, “Um, their music is too sad.” Too sad? TOO SAD? Honey, there is no such thing.
I listened to Tamaryn a lot during the summer that I was interning and it ended up being the perfect accompaniment to what was a truly strange time in my life. This was the summer that my father got sick and recovered from a surgery in my studio apartment. This was the summer that I dated a boy whom I thought I could maybe love but ultimately failed. This was the summer of haziness. In many respects, it was also my last “real” summer. After that, the season was seen as a mere extension of spring, a stretch of time like any other. I’m grateful that I at least got to spend my last summer of no responsibilities with this wonderful record. The swirling guitars, the ethereal voice, and the booming drums matched my mood perfectly.
Nowadays, it seems like bands are more interested in putting out singles than creating a cohesive album but with Tamaryn, that’s never the case. They create records with the specific intention of establishing a mood that will carry you till the end. Their new record, Tender New Signs, out October 16th on Mexican Summer, picks up where The Waves left off. Starting with the powerful track, “I’m Gone,” the listener knows immediately that they’re in for yet another journey. They’re already somewhere else, far away from reality, and they have no choice but to blissfully surrender to the sounds Tamaryn is going to create for them. That’s what music is about, right? Surrender. Escape. Taking people to a place they couldn’t go to on their own.
That’s what Tamaryn does for me. It creates a world for me to visit when I’m tired of the one I’m living in. I love it. I love them. Tonight, you should go soak in the bathtub, put their music on real loud, and see where the music takes you. Be careful though. If you’re gone too long, you might just get lost for good.
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Even as I write this now I am debating whether or not to erase it all together.
When I say I’m in love with you, I mean I love the story I can tell to my next lover, about my ex-lover, about how beautiful things were, how intense, how storybook, what a couple we were, and how you gradually, inexplicably, painfully, bit by bit, disappeared.
“I used to be afraid of failing at something that really mattered to me, but now I’m more afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter.”
I was 24 and, while not gay, ever since college I had been getting more attention from gay men than from heterosexual women.