The UnCovered | Band Profile: The Black Tape
Posted on March 08, 2010 by Greg
Back in 1987, fans of The Cosby Show were shocked when good girl Lisa Bonet eloped with an unknown New York singer-songwriter known as “Romeo Blue.” The widespread public reaction was that this talentless opportunist was manipulating one of America’s sweethearts to benefit his own career. When “Romeo Blue” released his first album under his real name, Lenny Kravitz, I was among the majority in expecting it to totally suck. But when I heard that record, Let Love Rule in 1989, I was kind of blown away. It was full of thoughtful, folk-tinged songwriting, dynamic emotional singing, the occasional righteous political stance… it wasn’t brilliant, but it was… it was good.
So when The UnCool compares the vocal stylings of The Black Tape’s Rashid Lamarre to Lenny Kravitz, it is THAT Lenny Kravitz I am talking about, not the bloated beer commercial crap factory that Kravitz has become. Lamarre has a clean, clear pop delivery that sounds ready to come spilling out of your car stereo as you cruise the summer streets. The rest of the band, Kyle Hartman (guitar), Ryan Staples (bass), and Jamie McGaw (drums) is right there with him, delivering music that is as accessible as a high-five, as bright as the sunlight reflecting off of rolling waves.
The themes of the songs are as basic as any in music: love, lost love, aspiring for better things… there is definitely room for growth there, but they work because they are played by people who still sound like they believe what they are saying and playing. There is so much cynicism in post-millennial music that it is refreshing to hear people playing classic heart-on-your-sleeve pop songs for all they’re worth. The fact that they’re based in Chicago makes me root for them all the more.
I had to bail on their recent show at Sylvie’s due to illness, but I got a 4-song EP from Lamarre on the way out. It’s very good, especially the moodier and more complex “Every Time I Stop to Breathe.” The last song, “Summertime” starts: “Got to be something more than this.” From the sound of this EP, I’d say there’s a whole lot more to come for The Black Tape.
–Greg at The UnCool
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