Tamar Berk *****
Start At The End https://tamarberk.bandcamp.com/
Album review by Eric Sandberg
In today's world, discovering new music that grabs hold of me like the first time I heard "Whole Lotta Love," "Are Friend's Electric" or (later on) "Talk About The Passion," is mainly a matter of happenstance. The radio is no help. The vaunted "Morning Becomes Eclectic" radio show on KCRW here in Los Angeles makes you slog through hours of acid beats before playing something of real interest.
Last year, I bought an album by an artist named Dolph Chaney, purely based on the cool retro album cover design. Dolph doesn't look like your average rock star, he looks like a cuddly teddy bear. As it turns out, the album made our top ten for 2021 with it's infectious, positive, power pop.
I followed Dolph on Facebook to keep up with his doings and one day he posted a video where he was exuberantly extolling the virtues of a San Diego based artist named Tamar Berk. In the video he performed a ferocious cover of her song "Heavy And Abusive" from her debut solo album The Restless Dreams Of Youth, released last year. I was intrigued so I searched the album out on Apple Music.
"Shadow Clues" From The Restless Dreams Of Youth
I'm going to roll out a cliche' here but the album absolutely blew me away. Berk's sheer songwriting confidence, coupled with her innate arranging skills and use of harmonies would be worthy of a major label push in a better, vanished, time. I don't really want to compare her to other artists because she has obviously consumed a cornucopia of influences and synthesized them into something truly her own. She mixes Indie Rock, Power Pop, Laurel Canyon style wistfulness as well as the kitchen sink into her oeuvre. Song's like "Outdated" and "Shadow Clues" are so good they had me checking to see if they were covers of hit songs by established artists but all songs are written, arranged, composed and performed by Tamar Berk.
"Skipping Cracks" from Tamar Berk's debut solo album The Restless Dreams Of Youth
The album is so good I wish I could summon a TARDIS to take me back to December and cram it into Knockandknowall's Top Ten of 2021. Berk's original vinyl pressing of the album had sold out but she recently went back to press with more vinyl and added CD copies, available through Bandcamp [see below]. No sooner than I acquired a CD copy of The Restless Dreams Of Youth and just let play in my car for a week, Berk announced the imminent release of her follow up
Start At The End.
Lead single "Your Permission" from the new album Start At The End
The album is slated for release on April 22, but I am currently holding a copy in my trembling hands because I immediately pre-ordered it and, by golly, she popped it right in the mail to me. No sophomore slump here. In fact, she ups the ante considerably. The opening piano chords of lead single "Your Permission" are like the bar coming down on your lap for a roller coaster ride of brilliant pop songs, from the second single "Tragic Endings" to the impassioned heartbreak of "Sweet Relief," the grand merry-go-round waltz of "No Chair," to the eastern North Carolina sound of "Dandelions In My Flower Bed," Start At The End has already secured a spot on Knockandknowall's 2022 Top Ten.
From a figurative roller coaster ride to a real one. The second single from the new album
You can order both of Tamar Berk's albums at tamarberk.bandcamp.com/ on LP, CD and Digital Download and we advise you to do so with alacrity.
Eric Sandberg: My true opinion on everything is that it's splunge.