I found out about Tin Tin Can in the way I’ve long preferred finding out about bands: I stumbled upon them at a gig. They opened for a group I went to see play, and — ta-dah — I biked home with a fresh sound to follow up with.
It’s been my preferred method because it requires zero work on my end. I can’t plan for it because there isn’t a plan to plan. It’s organic and random. Some might may serendipitous. And that’s what I find so exciting.
I’ve determined there’s a stickiness to the bands I clue into in this way. Instant recall that, yes, _____ came to me completely by happenstance. Mawrcrest (formerly Whisker Music) via Mimicking Birds, Rachele Eve via Darling, Sons of the West via Village. More recent: In Tall Buildings via Santah, Outer Minds via Radar Eyes, The Runnies via Tyler Jon Tyler.
The shame in reviewing a band like Tin Tin Can today is that I didn’t do much with them by way of review in the time since seeing them play in September 2010. Besides listing that Hideout show as one of my favorite nights of music that year, the name Tin Tin Can hasn’t reappeared here.
That I’ve so enjoyed their new one, Strange Vibrations, makes me a believer that that won’t ring true much longer. I think I might be, you know, more intentional about tracking what they’re up to.
One of the memorable things about that live show was that for a handful of songs Tin Tin Can used a pretty singing saw, which for me and likely everybody has long been a rare sighting on a Chicago stage. I don’t know that I’ve seen one since, actually. And yet when I heard it then, and again later on their Devil and the Mockingbird EP (2009), I figured it about as underrated an instrument as Elizabeth Banks is to acting.
The pratfall to singing saws, it seems, is that their uniqueness loses its luster if overused and overplayed. Tin Tin Can understands this in the sense that they use it sparingly. Dusting it off and letting it fly just a few times on stage and on record.
After a complete rotation of Strange Vibrations, I was a bit disheartened when I thought (albeit falsely) that the saw had been totally left off the LP. One more round and I realized my blunder: The saw was indeed there. Tin Tin Can had merely worked it in with fluency and precision.
You see, in lieu of using it liberally when it is, of course, broken out, Tin Tin Can has restored it in a subtle way. The saw makes joyful cameos on at least two tracks: “What Fireworks” and “Friends and Family.”
Subtlety, I’d imagine, is a hard line for a rock band to toe when the other instruments it relies on are sprightly guitars and drums. And yet that seems to be where things have progressed for Tin Tin Can. They don’t so much identify with rawness anymore, but understatement.
I don’t know that Tin Tin Can consciously strived to be either of those things on either record, but that’s been my big takeaway regardless. Moving from rawness to understatement, I’d think, is a mark of maturity.
And I applaud the range of sounds we get on Strange Vibrations. Between its “Year of the Rat” and ‘Friends and Family” bookends, Strange Vibrations hits all over the map, but without clear senses of confusion or hesitation. Tin Tin Can’s confidence just beams.
Recommended from the new LP: “Year of the Rat”
Recommended from the EP (2009): “Celebration of the Damned”
- The Chicago-based Tin Tin Can is: Justin Turner, Dustin Monk, Chris Baran, Pierce Codina and Myk Martello. | Facebook | Twitter
- Buy Strange Vibrations for $10 (CD) or $8 (mp3s). Or freely stream it. | Bandcamp
- Tin Tin Can will formally release Strange Vibrations at the Empty Bottle on Monday, April 2. Free show. | Info
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