If to the eyes of The Blank Tapes’ mastermind Matt Adams Hastings looks like a small San Francisco, to my ears the town turns for a night into an East Sussex L.A. to the jingle-jangling West Coast psych-surf-pop sounds of The Blank Tapes.
One of the most creative and prolific bands of the last decade (it’s a good competition with The Brian Jonestown Massacre), L.A.-based The Blank Tapes stopped to Hastings’s Observer Building during their European tour just a few days before the release of new album Ojos Rojos (It’s A Gas! Records).
Opened by a Sir’s Corner 60s freakbeat, garage, psych and pop vinyl DJ set, The Blank Tapes transported the audience to a 1967 Californian beach also through their Haight-Ashbury-like attire made of cord and velvet jackets and trippy dresses.
The gig is a joyous succession of 60s-inspired jingle jangling pop blending now towards psych with firing organ, now towards surf and South American echoes in the style of Allah Las and spaghetti western scores, without forgetting the influence of L.A.’s folk-rock establishment The Byrds.
The performance is one stretch of lazy sun-kissed Califronian vibes, which don’t really require energic and esagitate stage actions, but a certain quantity of musical skillfulness and wisdom that Adams and bandmates prove to have. The singer and guitarist is accompanied on stage by Jefferson Airplane-looking bassist Brandon Graham (The Relationship, Dream Phases), British touring drummer Josh Magill (Syd Arthur, Bison Bonasus) and guitarist and keyboardist emerging talent Veronica Bianqui (look out for her solo material).
The Blank Tapes are certainly part of a well-shaped American scene which includes acts such as Allah Las, The Growlers and Sugar Candy Mountain, but can be seen as a self-standing phenomenon not bounded by the on-going fashion of psych ‘revival’. Here, there is a genuine love for the 60s highlighted by a Ray Davies-like songwriting style perfectly matched by the outfits and small gems sounding like Bay Area’s lost treasures of a dreamlike past as La La Love You, that manages to drive Hastings’ crowd- at first static- into a dance craze.