Tashaki Miyaki perform at Rough Trade East
Tashaki Miyaki’s woozy, sun-drenched grooves are perfect for this brief summer we seem to be having. Formed, seemingly by accident, after a jam session, this California three-piece are still surrounded by a mysterious, shimmering haze – despite the success of their 2011 EP The Sounds of Sweet Nothing, little is known about them, who they are or what they’re planning on doing next. Last night, however, they took to the intimate stage of Rough Trade East, delivering a short but sweet set to the delight of their small but adoring audience.
With their heavy use of howling, reverb-laden guitar and echoing, double-edged vocal, comparisons with The Jesus and Mary Chain are almost too easy. Tashaki Miyaki’s particular brand of California warble is of a sweeter vintage, however, drawing on their state’s penchant for warm-blooded beauty with a kick of existential angst; the harmonies are pure Pet Sounds with a sprinkle of Mama’s and The Papa’s swing and a wave of Phil Spector-ish wall-of-sound splashed in for good measure. The group make a clever nod to this retro heritage in their pared-down cover of the Everly Brothers saccharine 1958 hit All I Have to Do is Dream, which forms the central piece of their set.
Their own songs fly like butterflies but sting like bees, honeycombed pockets of sweet harmonies punctured by searing, Velvet Underground-esque guitar solos and lyrics of despair and loss. “You’re all I ever wanted” they sing on Get it Right “who will I love if I don’t love you?”
These tales of woe and heartbreak are a little unfathomable given the band’s appearance. Tashaki Miyaki are, quite simply, pretty. Very, very pretty. Gorgeous, in fact. All three band members look like they’ve wandered off a Vogue cover-shoot, all translucent skin and long, flower-child hair. It is a testament to their skills as musicians that this almost absurd beauty is a welcome addition to, rather than a distraction from, their music and performance.
Tashaki Miyaki are clearly from the minimalist school of on-stage banter, barely breaking a smile or a sweat throughout their 40-minute showcase. Under any other circumstances – if, for example, they chose to play sold out stadium shows a la Coldplay – this would be off-putting, but the Rough Trade East store’s casual intimacy renders all noisy repartee and wide grins unnecessary. It is refreshing to see a band let the songs speak for themselves, rather than hopping about the stage like maniacs trying to win the audience by demanding they “make some noise!” In Tashaki Miyaki’s case, less is more, and that suits their music perfectly.
This kind of music is the soundtrack of red-hot suburban summers, hissing lawns and lazy, teenage days. “Why is it so hot in London?” trills the drummer halfway through their set. “It’s freaking me out” If our city finally gets the summer it deserves, Tashaki Miyaki’s bittersweet sounds are the perfect backdrop for more of these halcyon days, sunny afternoons and dreamy evenings under the stars.
Tashaki Miyaki’s new single Best Friend / Tonight is out now and available to buy here
Watch the video of Best Friend by Tashaki Miyaki here