Combining the simple melodies of the best bubblegum music with a decidedly Southern Californian take on the Velvet Underground that mixes their studied cool with some Dead-style chill, the Blank Tapes is the name Matt Adams uses to release the output generated by his prolific songwriting.
Beginning in 2003, the Blank Tapes released tapes, CDs, and records on a variety of labels, including Burger and Antenna Farm, mostly recorded at home by Adams with the help of a few friends. In 2017, Adams released Collection 2003-2017, a 22-song record that showed off his skills as both a writer and performer and staked out a claim for himself as an as-yet-undiscovered pop craftsman.
As a youngster in Southern California, Adams fell in love with pop music. The chiming guitars, vocal harmonies, and sweet melodies of classic bands like the Beatles and Kinks inspired him to make his own music. He started writing songs -- many, many songs -- and with some friends began to put them on tape. Over a two-year span between 2003 and 2005, the Blank Tapes, as Adams named the project, laid down lots of laid-back, ambling pop tunes in lo-fi, sunbaked fashion. Many of these songs were collected on the self-released Country Western Honky Tonk Blues Saloon in 2003; more found a home on 2005's Landfair. Both albums were recorded in bedrooms, front rooms, bars, and churches, with Adams getting help from a rotating cast of supporting characters. Adams relocated to the San Francisco area that year, and after some time spent getting acclimated and writing more tunes, he recorded the third Blank Tapes album, Daydreams. The 2007 self-released album saw Adams playing most of the instruments himself. He did have a live band at this point and spent time touring in between bouts of writing and recording. The next Blank Tapes release was a collection of covers titled Friends & Favorites that they gave away for free. More time spent writing and recording resulted in another album, Home Away from Home, in 2010. That same year, Adams took the band to Brazil, where some of their songs had become inexplicably popular.
The Blank Tapes' profile was growing in their home country too, as their next record, 2012's Sun's Too Bright, was co-released by Adams and Burger Records. It still had a homemade sound, recorded directly to cassette on a lo-fi recording setup, but they made a jump on their next album to a real studio. Released in 2013, Vacation was recorded at new Improved Recording in Oakland and released by the Antenna Farm label. Adams was helped out on the album by members of his live band, including drummer Will Halsey and vocalist Pearl Charles. The Blank Tapes also provided the soundtrack for the 2013 film Compassing and released Slow Easy Death, a compilation cassette of tracks dating back to 2008. The next couple years were busy, filled with shows, singles, and recording. Arriving in 2015, the epic 40-song tape Hwy 9 collected a wide range of songs recorded between 2003 and 2014, serving as a summation of the past while pointing toward a new future. Adams had moved back to L.A. by this time and solidified a live band with Charles on drums and D.A. Humphrey on bass. He still did the bulk of the recording himself, though, and the 2015 album Geodesic Dome Piece on Royal Oakie Tapes and Records was another homemade slice of hippie psych-pop. Sha-La-Love, another cassette made up of tracks from the vault, was also released that year.
As a change of pace, 2016's Ojos Rojos was a full-band recording comprising sessions recorded in 2013 -- 14 in L.A. and San Francisco at actual studios by the working group of Humphrey on bass, drums from Halsey (who by this point had started the band Sugar Candy Mountain), and backing vocals by Charles. It was their most professional-sounding record yet, though it certainly lost none of the usual relaxed stoner charm of the rest of their Tapes catalog. Released in 2017, Wobbly Rock EP was another collection of tracks from various sessions, and was followed by what served as a selection of greatest hits from the band's career to this point, the 22-song Collection 2003-2017. Instead of moving back to his trusty home setup, Adams headed to Portland to record at the studio of the Fruit Bats' Eric D. Johnson, resulting in 2018's Candy. Another set of semi-polished gems -- this time very laid-back and summery -- Candy was released by PIAPTK Records and featured contributions from Johnson, Halsey, and vocalist Veronica Bianqui. ~ Tim Sendra, Rovi