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Black Tambourine: Endearing Menace From The Archives

For all its reverb and defiant noise, the sound of Black Tambourine barely reached past the borders of Washington, D.C., in the early '90s. It's been years since the group disbanded, but its echo is finally starting to bounce back and resonate with a new generation of musicians, including The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Vivian Girls, Crystal Stilts and plenty more.

"For Ex-Lovers Only," from a new self-titled anthology, could easily be Black Tambourine's sonic manifesto. Pam Berry's youthful vocals sound surreal against a ghostly wall of guitar distortion, and some tight drums lay a strong foundation for the chaos consuming the mix. Each instrument is an unlikely character, playing its part in something both endearing and menacing. It's like a no-wave perversion of Phil Spector's girl-group sound.

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Anthony Fantano
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