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March 22, 2012


Album Review: Tanlines ‘Mixed Emotions’

by @thoughtontracks

The perfect blend can be delicious and addicting when done right.  Choosing the appropriate base is extremely important, however, the supporting cast of substance classifies the good from the bad. Take the Blizzard from Dairy Queen for example. Vanilla soft serve is the foundation and an array of miniature bites of our favorite chocolate candy bars follow.  This winning combination has been a means for parents to shut their children up and listen ever since I can remember.  While the standard is great, the obscure is preferred.  I was a Nerds Blizzard guy.  This candy should not have tasted the way it did with DQ soft serve, but it was magic.  Like Danny Devito and Arnold Schwarzenegger in “Twins,” it just worked together.  Pulling influences from all types of world music, Brooklyn based Tanlines has been my new favorite dynamic duo.  The team released of their debut LP Mixed Emotions on Tuesday and since then I have felt like a 10 year-old version of myself finding that perfect blend once again.

Tanlines are compromised of Jesse Cohen (drums, music) and Eric Emm (guitar, vocals).  Their project is captivating because it is very much experimental.  A mixed pot of off-the-wall ingredients that creates music that just works.  The title Mixed Emotions is brilliant because of their ability to pull unique sounds together and create a rich blend. Emm’s stadium filling vocals and rich, melodic synthesizers throughout prove to be the foundation.  The Nerds element is sprinkled through the record with ambiguous world drumming patterns and indentifying string instruments.  Created by a machine or not, Tanlines’ sound is authentic and provides several anthems to step to.

Track, “All of Me” is their best work and is the song of the record for me.  Although early in the album, this is the moment when it all comes together for Tanlines.  When this song came through my headphones for the first time I immediately thought music festival.  This is a song that is meant for the scorching outdoors and was created to build a summer time dance party. A 10 pound shirt and an overdose of UV rays make sense with this song.

“All of Me”

This momentum is kept as the album progresses and reaches finger snapping mode with track, “Not the Same”.  Keyboards start the song and wild western guitar licks lay over the intro. Comfortable synths take over and Emm’s voice erupts.  The violin makes a cameo after the chorus as the melting pot of sound grows thicker.  The icing on the cake is recorded finger snapping that compliment the many elements of sound.  They are unorthodox, but sensible.  This is the point on Mixed Emotions where the duo finds perfect balance.

“Not the Same”

Tanlines are innovative and focused on building rhythm to hold the listener’s interest.  They are outside of the box musicians that offer the listener the opportunity to embrace many new styles.  They hold true to their dancehall foundation, but incorporate alternate sounds to demand engagement.  Their choruses are attention grabbing and they sound like they are built for the live show.  Like the Nerds Blizzard they are an unlikely combination that brings a smile to my face.   I hope to see Tanlines continue to serve up off the menu type music for listeners as they progress in their young career.

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Written by Brett McGrath

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