Kim Hart's angelic soprano floats among the clouds, a cumulus coo that's its own dreamy force of nature. Its echo-laden presence recalls the gossamer shimmer of the Cocteau Twins and gentle elegance of Beach House singer Victoria Legrand. Hart and fellow guitarist Jarod Weldin comprise Charleston duo Tape Waves, who celebrate the release of their debut self-titled EP this week.
The four-song disc's a tremendous coming-out party for the twin-guitar and drum machine combo. Durable hard-candy hooks percolate beneath Hart's breeze-surfing siren call as it splits the difference between dream and indie pop. (The EP is available from their site, tapewaves.bandcamp.com.)
"The dream pop thing comes from her vocals," says Weldin, a Syracuse native who followed his older brother here seven years ago. "I always thought the songs were more upbeat and sort of indie pop if you will."
Weldin's understated leads subtly key the songs, ably abetting Hart's bewitching vocals. The pretty jangly lead of the disc-opening track "Drifting" has the same sing-song appeal as the Peter, Bjorn, and John hit "Young Folks," and the album's sweet musical innocence recalls the Swedish combo. There's an effortlessness and ease to the songs like a narcotized reverie, drool beginning to pool near one corner of your lips as slack-jawed contentment overcomes you like sleep.
This dazed state is even reflected in the song titles, which betray an unfixed and flowing state, from "Drifting" through "Somewhere" and on to "Wherever I Go." The latter is perhaps the pair's finest song, driven by an insistent, vaguely rockabilly, reverberating guitar hook, as Hart confesses her obsession trails her like a shadow. "I wanna know what you're doing, I wanna know what you're thinking," she sings, as though simultaneously scribbling little hearts in her notebook.
"That one resonated more with people than we expected," says Weldin of the track, which was the digital B-side of "Ready Now," their first release back in March. "We put them out and we were both just, 'Obviously 'Ready Now' is the better track.' That was our mind-set and it turned out more people like the other one."
In truth, there's not a dud among their first four tracks, whetting appetites for the future. Weldin reports that they've got the skeletons of another half-dozen songs and are hoping to put out a full-length album next year. It's a good start for a project that only began in January, though its origins go back another nine months.
Hart and Weldin met in March of last year while working for a telephone company. They shared a mutual love for music, had both spent high school in punk bands, and soon started dating. Come the beginning of the year they started playing music together. Within a couple months, they'd recorded their first two songs.
"It was a real quick process. We recorded them in our apartment. I'd been recording my own stuff for years, so it was pretty easy to do it right here," he says. "We've been writing a lot because it's so convenient. We don't have to schedule practice."
Both were turned on to music by their siblings. Beaufort native Hart played in a band with her older sister, while Weldin recalls stealing his brother's Nirvana and Operation Ivy discs, helping seed his love of underground music. Yet for Hart and Weldin the quieter, subtler sound of Tape Waves is a departure.
"We've both played in bands, but it's always been loud drums and guitars, whereas here we're kind of dialing it back," he says. "It can be a little more intimidating I guess, but it's fun."
Although, as you might imagine, there are added layers to the emotional dynamic of making music with your significant other, the pair enjoys the collaboration. Both came to the project with a history of writing on their own and have learned to open themselves and their process up to each other.
"We work to be as open and honest as we can," he says. "At this point we've gotten good at saying I'm not really into that idea that much without hurting the other's feelings or taking offense."
They've resisted the temptation so far to bring in a human rhythm section. Who wants to rely on a couple of strangers and their funky schedules? But they aren't wholly averse to the idea as things move forward. This CD release show will only be Tape Waves' third show ever, after making their live debut last month at the Tin Roof.
Needless to say, it's still early in the band's career. They aren't really looking to turn this into a nationally touring phenomenon. Hart has a job at a law firm downtown. Weldin is going to school for computer programming. But who knows what will happen? These first four songs are the type that stick with you and still sound fresh after countless listens. Most bands begin auspiciously, but it's all about what happens next.
"We definitely have a lot of common interests. It definitely brought us together and I think it helps when we write as well," Weldin says, pausing to reflect on it all. "Who knows about the future, right?"