Congratulations, everyone, on making it through March. Not everyone could take it. Emily Nokes, standing there in the middle of that photo, couldn't take it. She had to leave. One day she was here, right as right, fit as a fiddle, running The Stranger's music section; next thing we knew, she "had to" go on tour with her band, Tacocat, down into the warmer parts of the country, like to Texas and everything, and she's still out there, somewhere, eating guacamole as I type. She doesn't come back for two more whole weeks. The rest of us, obviously, are in a different "boat." Two days into March, my raincoat gave up—just reversed on me, changed its mind, started sponging up everything. According to the record books, this is Seattle's third-wettest March ever, out-soaked only by March of 1950 and some March in the '70s.
Not all of us have the foresight to schedule five-week winter vacations during the third-wettest March on record. The thing that's gotten me through? My record player. Specifically, my record player's relationship with Tacocat's new album NVM, the color of the vinyl alone brightening my apartment. (It's pink!) I'm guessing NVM is a Nirvana joke—the band's Twitter bio says they're "equal parts Kurt and Courtney"—but Emily's not around to ask. "It's dark and it rains all the tiiiiiiiiiiiiime," she sings on the second song, "Bridge to Hawaii," a catchy, sunny blast. Every night, when I get home from work, I point the speakers toward my face, like heat lamps, and turn on the song and just cook my face in it. "The tannest freak around, you need some drier ground, and when you can't go on, you know what your options are. Let's build a bridge to Hawaii..." she sings, although there's really no way to write out exactly how she sings "Hawaii." You gotta hear it. Although, warning: Once you do, you won't ever be able to get it out of your head. And once it's in your head, it will keep wanting to come out of your mouth, sometimes at inopportune moments, like the other night when I discovered, while walking down a crowded East Olive Way in the rain, that I know all the words. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE
My sixtysomething "second mom," better known to most as my Aunt Roach, just dyed her hair cotton-candy pink. When she e-mailed me a picture of it, from Nowheresville, Northern Michigan, I replied to her with the video for "Crimson Wave."
"You coulda been in this video!" I said.
"No way!" she typed back. "I'm OLD! I love everything about this video, though. Dancing crabs! Sharks! Purple hair! I LOVE IT ALL! Who are these girls?"
These girls (plus one tall and most excellent guitar-playing fellow named Eric) are Tacocat. While old-school feminists would almost certainly bristle at the word "girl" being used to describe grown-ass women (especially women who play in a band in the heavily dude-bro-centered world of music), something tells me Tacocat would let Aunt Roach slide.
Back in January, when the wildly popular feminist website Rookie premiered the video for "Crimson Wave," Emily Nokes summed up the band's coolly inspired, most positive ethos in her answer to an interview question: "Instead of channeling how super-angry certain things can make you feel, we express our feminism by being more like, 'Dude, things are so fucked up sometimes.' In my experience, making jokes about that kind of stupid stuff has made people check themselves more than when people yell at them about it."
Lauded by everyone from Aunt Roach to Rookie, Jezebel, VICE's Noisey, Impose, Brooklyn Vegan, and even those crabby jerks over at Pitchfork.com, "Crimson Wave" is surfing its own wave of critical acclaim. The video had more than 10,000 views in less than a week, and the numbers just keep climbing. Not bad for a sunshiny surf-rock song about not letting menstruation getcha down. It's so fucked up sometimes—but you can always laugh it off with a little white wine, maybe a Vicodin, and a dancing crab or two. (Confidential to Tampax: License this song for your next TV commercial. You will sell ONE MILLION more tampons.) KELLY O
Back when they started out, Tacocat caught a lot of shit for being a fun band, for performing songs that are funny. A column in The Stranger from June of 2008 sniffs, "I don't hate TacocaT. I just wish they were more than a goofy, house-party cover band... it's just hard to get fully behind a band whose most memorable original number is about urinary tract infections." This is maddening, regressive thinking.
Music can and should reflect every single aspect of the human experience—songs should be dour, and lusty, and impatient, and obsessive—and I know a lot of fun, funny humans. Further, why should you waste time wishing that a band would become something they're not? Just get over yourself and admit you're too self-serious to be comfortable with fun music. In the last few years, I've seen a fantastic thing happen: People of a certain age have relaxed enough to finally admit that Weird Al Yankovic is one of the most influential musicians of their youth. Only good things can come from that realization.
One of the best, catchiest songs on NVM is "F. U. #8," which is a song about the interminable wait for the perennially late number 8 bus from Queen Anne to Rainier Beach. It's a funny song that imagines waiting for the bus as getting stood up on a date. Because, Jesus, who hasn't been stranded by a bus in this fucking city? And why not write a funny song about urinary tract infections, or visiting the gynecologist? Women everywhere experience those things, so couldn't it be a little cathartic to hear those things portrayed in a light, funny song? And isn't it healthy for men to hear about these experiences, to demystify the experience of being a woman a little bit? I guess my point is, why can't people just lighten the fuck up and enjoy a good song for being a good song? PAUL CONSTANT
I dreamt I went on tour with Tacocat before I ever heard their music. Somehow, magically, I was in the band, and it was all candy and drugs and sleeping on floors and lemon chiffon pie... No, actually, the only part of the dream I could fully remember in the morning was riding in the van. It was hot and everyone was wearing headphones and I was looking out the window at an unknown state passing by, and it was a feeling of surpassing happiness.
When I finally saw Tacocat at Chop Suey recently, the crowd chanted "CAN-DY! CAN-DY! CAN-DY!" and the band threw it right at them. The front cover of NVM is a photo of all gumballs, an elbowing hint at the music: retro grrrl-group bubblegum pop (no hard feelings, they let a boy in the band), sometimes surf, sometimes punk, with a wink and a hard shove. There are chiming vocals, hand claps, a party, and sweetly put fuck-yous to blowhards who waste your time, men who harass you on the street, those who fail to show up.
"Snow Day" is the last song on the album, and it's out of season now, but if you live here you'll know, and you'll be there in a heartbeat with a flask in your parka pocket: "And the buses left for dead/Plastic ads made into sleds/And we'll never go to bed..." BETHANY JEAN CLEMENT