Tanukichan's 'Gizmo' is a Must-Hear For Shoegaze Fans
Plus, the Good Ass Songs 2023 playlist is up and running. Give it a listen!
One of the more popular offerings from Check This Out! last year was the Good Ass Songs playlist and after two pretty solid months of music to kick off 2023, it’s time to share the latest version. “Good Ass Songs 2023” is a big mess of tunes that I’m enjoying that is constantly updated. There are no genres or themes, just some great stuff from this year that I think you, as a reader, may also get into. It’s a place not only for songs from the reviews you read here each week but also one-offs, new singles, and numbers I enjoy from albums I may not like—the best of the best.
Only a few months into 2023, the list is already hovering around one hundred songs, so hit shuffle and tell the normies there’s a phenomenal amount of great music released every day, ya gotta look and, most importantly, listen.
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If my recent review for Narrow Head’s Moments of Clarity is any indication, I’m falling hook, line and sinker for groups discovering the beauty of mid-90s shoegaze and dream pop. It may not be a new concept, but after mining the nineties for a few years now, it seems artists are comfortably settling into the alternative era that held on for a brief time before giving way to nü metal. The newest album to hit this sweet spot is Gizmo by Tanukichan, the second effort from Hannah Van Loon’s moniker, which fans of Super Mario Bros. 3 should easily be able to translate.
After a background in classical music and playing in the San Francisco-based indie pop outfit, Trails and Ways, Van Loon worked with Chaz Bear, better known as Toro y Moi, on an EP and her debut with 2018’s Sundays. Bear is again in the producer’s seat, and Gizmo is a massive growth jump for sonics fans. Using escape as a theme, Van Loon’s hushed sugary vocals are buried further in the mix on these songs, as she takes a queue from the shoegaze greats and lets the focus stay on the airy distorted guitars.
Named after a canine companion that Van Loon adopted while writing the songs that would become Gizmo (who also passed unexpectedly as Van Loon finished the record), the album is an exercise in release, as Van Loon looked to break out of a cycle of sadness. As the roomy drums and fuzzy bass guide songs like “Don’t Give Up,” Van Loon reassures herself through another day. On “Been Here Before,” she’s channeling Jay Som through a sea of harmonics while working through those pesky night thoughts, or with “Like You,” there’s the realization that things don’t always work out.
Most of the songs on Gizmo run under three minutes, but the record takes off when Van Loon stretches her ideas out over the last few songs. “Thin Air” features fellow nineties worshippers Enumclaw for a duet that brings along James Iha’s E-bow for complete immersion. The two best songs close things out with “Take Care” and Van Loon’s classical background surfaces on “Mr. Rain” with a triumphant symphonic build to end Gizmo on a high note.
While still dealing with heavy humanistic themes like on Sundays, Gizmo is the natural path forward for Tanukichan and sees Van Loon ready to take things to the next level in her musical journey by expanding her palette. Fans of Slow Pulp, Mannequin Pussy, and Japanese Breakfast’s Psychopomp take note, as Gizmo may be the cathartic record you’re looking for.