Reviewed by Audra Schroeder, Fri., May 14, 2010
Black Tambourine was one of the first acts on D.C. collective imprint Slumberland Records, peaking from the halcyon years of 1989-1991, when punk was "breaking" and 120 Minutes kept the alternative stable well-fed. The Maryland fourpiece may not have had much cachet originally, but theirs was a perfect squall: Pam Berry's cool-breeze vocals, eternally heartbroken, paired with blasts of white-hot feedback on "For Ex-Lovers Only" and "Pack You Up," both evoking a kinder, gentler My Bloody Valentine. Black Tambourine pairs 10 cuts from 1999 comp Complete Recordings, long out of print, plus demos of "For Ex-Lovers Only" and "Throw Aggi Off the Bridge," covers of Buddy Holly's "Heartbeat" and Suicide's "Dream Baby Dream," and first versions of "Lazy Heart" and "Tears of Joy." It's all distinctly Black Tambourine: girl group meets noise. Even the tape warp of the demos sounds like it was done on purpose. The packaging gets updated, too, with liner notes pondering how so many current bands have added BT's sound "to their own DNA." A rare gem that still holds up.