The quartet of the Fire Tapes, which consists of Betsy White (guitar, vocals), Todd Milton (guitar), Rob Dobson (bass) and Mark McLewlee (drums), quickly developed a reputation in the Washington, DC/Alexandria, VA and Charlottesville, VA areas for sets that were innovative and downright experimental. Their debut effort, Dream Travel was released to critical praise, and quite a bit of love across the blogosphere in that section of the country.
The band will be releasing their sophomore effort, Phantoms on September 17th, and it further cements the band’s reputation for complex, highly nuanced song structures, which sonically owe a great debt to the Velvet Underground, PJ Harvey, the Black Angels, and even the Standing Nudes. On “Scarlett Cliffs,” the album opener and first single off the album, there are moments of sublime, ethereal beauty – the sort of which you’d expect from great psych rock and great shoegazer rock; that is before building up in brooding intensity.
At over 9 minutes, the track will remind you of the epic-length songs on classic rock albums, and much like those songs, this one is an aural journey. Wright’s ethereal vocals dart, bob and weave through the mix with at times consists of gentle drone, at other times a pulsating drone, and a muscular insistence. It has a lingering, haunting presence – quite fitting for the album title.