Chris Church: Limitations of Source Tape

You can purchase “Limitations of Source Tape” from SpyderPop records, and also stream the album on Spotify.

The album has a “bright” mix…vocals are at the top, with percussion, lead and rhythm guitars right below them, and bass is not extremely pronounced. I’ve seen the reviews and promotional materials that are available for Chris, naming multiple influences that can be heard in his music, but the primary vibe I picked up on was “Something / Anything” and “A Wizard, A True Star” era Todd Rundgren. He’s not a Todd sound-alike, but in terms of songwriting, delivery, and production, Todd was the influence that rang most true for me. Labels and comparisons are of questionable value, ultimately…rather than play “spot the influence,” I’d instead encourage you to just put it on, listen, and enjoy the tuneful and energetic pop / rock performances as they unfold.

One of the best representations of the sound described can be found on the track “Ostinato.” It begins with booming rhythm guitars, and a little raga-flavored Byrds guitar, and that weary, slightly pissed off Rundgren-style vocal delivery. The song is insistent, but takes its own time to unfold. “How could I understand…nothing ever goes as planned…” I’d pick this track as a single. As good as the rest of the album is, this one rises above them all because of its grit, its passion, the whole ball of wax. As mentioned above, bass guitar does not play a major role in this album’s mix. In its absence, the rhythm guitars on this track bark and cut with deep, booming sounds, and there’s a magnificent, distorted Neil Young & Crazy Horse spiraling lead guitar solo. It’s the sum total of so many wonderful parts, and Chris expertly blends them all together.

Some of the songs are ignited by energetically strummed acoustic guitars, while others rely on more of a full electric rhythm guitar backing. All of the guitars are spring-loaded, carefully constructed, offering splendid support of the song, rather than something tacked on as window dressing.

Chris also delves into grittier garage rock sounds on tracks like “Understudy Blues,” once again offering that highly contagious Crazy Horse brand of “precision sloppy” onslaught, highly distorted guitars, careening solo, but he doesn’t lose control of the track for a split second. Make this the “B” side of that Digital Single, and I guarantee a winner.

He pulls out of the raucous “Understudy Blues” with the floating, melodic, dream-like “Take A Knee.” This plays perfectly into the pacing of the album. “Take a knee on this one, baby…sorry, but there’s nothing else to say…” It’s another classic Rundgren-ism…Todd is the king of the “loving kiss-off.”

“I Can Feel The Echo” notches the volume back up, and it’s a whirlwind of acoustics, electrics, and harmony vocals, capped off with a tight, fuzzy solo.

Do yourself…and the artist…a favor with this one. Put it on, without any preconceptions or expectations of him “sounding” like any other artist. Because what can tell you about the album, after listening, is that it transcends any comparisons that can be made. Yes, he has influences, like any other artist. But he rises above them and stands on his own with an album that is red–hot, rocking, filled with melody and energy. Go into it with “fresh ears” and you will be amply rewarded. I’ve mentioned Todd Rundgren only because the heartbeat of the album is so similar to some of his best works, but this is Chris Church’s show all the way.