Jasmyn Burke’s vocals are probably the most alluring part of Toronto three-piece RatTail’s < > George Mounsey EP, which is solidly produced for being, according to their MySpace, “recorded by the band in there [sic] basement .” The album is part of a series of 300-copy limited edition 7” EPs by Unfamiliar Records, which includes releases by Vancouver’s prodigious offspring, Makeout Videotape and Brasstronaut.
Formed just last year, RatTail—or whoever is behind their marketing strategy—appears to have a good grasp of how to make a band appealing and accessible. The clear vinyl print gives them cred with the audiophiles, while the half-dozen weirdly stimulating d.i.y videos online add a multidimensional depth to their cultural presence. Searching “RatTail – Gasmask” on Youtube will get you a video (created by RatTail drummer Jesse Frank Matthews) of one of the band’s songs set to a hilarious psychedelic re-edit of a VHS workout video. They also have a blog with unabashed photos of the band playing to handfuls of people at churches and underground venues across Canada.
“Green Guitar,” the second track on the EP, demonstrates the variance in Burke’s vocals, from a sensual Cat Power-esque purr to an unforgiving plaintive-yet-badass caterwaul. On the B-side, “Poncho” begins with a indie-disco feel and closes with a pounding, epic stoner rock buildup, channeling old school Black Sabbath or Dead Meadow. In contrast, “Secret Song” is a shoegazer lullaby, with Burke crooning mournfully, urgently, again and again so you will never forget: “This is our secret from me to you;” the drums all soothing, capering toms like two adjacent heartbeats, accompanied by spacey ambient effects that tickle your pineal gland.
If you have a phonograph, owning one of the three hundred copies of this 7”—which includes a six-song digital download – might make you a quantifiably cooler person.