Chris & Tad
Chris & Tad
I’d been looking forward to this collaboration between the Presidents of the United States of America’s Chris Ballew and the Young Fresh Fellows’ Tad Hutchinson since I first heard of it while preparing to interview Chris several months ago — I’m a long-time fan of Chris’ various projects and a recent convert to the YFF gospel, so to say that this record was highly anticipated is an extreme understatement. Because of that, I was mildly disappointed by my first listen, expecting the raucous, power poppy sound the Presidents and YFF both did so well. Then I learned a little more about the project, and was intrigued — apparently, the record started as a “challenge band,” Chris & Tad agreeing to limit themselves to what instruments they could carry into the studio (Chris’ house) on one trip. While it grew beyond the initial “challenge,” it became clear to me that this was just an excuse for Chris & Tad to get together and have a little fun. Listening to it from that perspective, the raw, ’60s garage rock sound started to grow on me more and more with each listen. Soon, I realized that despite the stripped-down feel and (intentionally, I assume) lo-fi production, what I loved most about Chris & Tad’s previous work was still here: sweet, unforgettable pop hooks and a raucously energetic sense of fun. I now believe that layering more instrumentation and polished sheen on top of these simple, fun songs would have been a HUGE mistake, as the charm of songs like “I Made Up My Mind,” “Film Party,” and the quirky “Bread and Butter” is in their offbeat simplicity and raw feel. It’s completely obvious that Chris & Tad had a blast making this record, and most of what appears here are the very first takes of the songs, capturing the exciting spirit of the moment — hell, “PNW Blue” was even written especially for the CD! The spirit and magic of the moment really comes through, making this record as much fun to listen to as it must have been to record. Highly recommended.
Orange Recordings, http://www.orangerecordings.com; Chris & Tad, PO Box 15349, Seattle, WA 98115