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Tiger High hails from the epicenter of rock-n-roll, the place responsible for everything from Sun & Stax Records to Big Star, the city of Memphis, Tenn.
Its first two records, released on cassette jointly by Burger Records and Trashy Creatures Records, were well received by college and underground radio. In 2015 both albums will be released by Burger Records, for the first time, on vinyl in a beautiful double-album gatefold package.
This year the band unveils a new, sonically ambitious vinyl LP, “Inside the Acid Coven.” It’s the band’s third full length and is out now on Volar Records/Trashy Creatures Records. The cassette edition is a co-release by Burger Records and Trashy Creatures Records.
The band, which Mojophenia described as “haunting yet graceful psych-pop,” formed in August 2010 and includes: songwriter Jake Vest (vocals/guitar), Toby Vest (organ/vocals/production), Greg Roberson (drums), and bassist Leo Ramos.
“Unlike ‘Catacombs After Party,’ the new record, ‘Inside the Acid Coven,’ was a complete concept that was conceived and recorded all at one time,” Jake Vest said. “It’s also the first record of ours where Toby truly used his studio, High/Low Recording, as one of his many instruments, crafting and shaping the sound ... we were extremely meticulous with tones and atmospheres.”
With a home turf like Memphis, Tiger High has a long list of hometown heroes. The endless stream of soul, R&B, gospel, and garage rock all inform the band’s creative aesthetic. From underground legends like Jack Yarber and Greg Cartwright of The Oblivians, to rock‘n’roll legends like Jim Dickinson and Alex Chilton, the band’s roots are firmly planted in Tennessee. Their sound also echoes fellow Memphians Sid Selvidge, The Lost Sounds, and guitarist Lee Baker, to only name a few.
Roberson, a Memphis music-scene veteran, has worked with many of those Memphis fixtures over the years. He was Reigning Sound’s original drummer, appearing on the band’s first four studio albums. He also spent time behind the kit playing for The Compulsive Gamblers, Lover, and Jack Oblivian. In 2006 Roberson’s band The Knaughty Knights, with Rich Reatard and Jack Oblivian, recorded an EP for Shattered Records, the late Jay Reatard’s imprint. Roberson also assembled the last version of Love for ‘60s psychedelic icon Arthur Lee.
Though, Roberson’s focus today is fully on Tiger High. The Memphis Rock City blog praised the band’s energy and compared it to Roberson’s past work: "the chemistry (of Tiger High) . . . is just as strong, if not stronger than the early days of the Reigning Sound.”
It’s true, Tiger High started with a bang. Its 2012 debut album “Myth Is This” charted on the CMJ Top 200 and received positive reviews from a number of publications. Paste Magazine said it “sounded like Phil Spector manning the faders for a crackling indie band.”
In November 2012 Tiger High released its sophomore LP, “Catacombs After Party.” The disc, which Mojophenia hailed as “a soaring beast of a follow-up,” peaked at #51 on the CMJ Top 200 charts, and peaked at #20 on the Dusted charts. Paste Magazine said its “goosed by sheets of fuzzy clang … and wiggles with Bolan-meets-Iggy attitude.”
The band’s stage show has also been melting faces in Memphis and beyond, with both headlining sets and opening sets for heavy hitters like Death, Thee Oh Sees, Mikal Cronin, White Fence, and Metz. Rock journalist Nick Peterson of Apes on Tape described one of the band’s San Francisco gigs as “charged-up, riveting garage rock.” He also applauded the band member’s harmonious skill set, “Front man Jake Vest delivered very impassioned vocals while blistering through some lightning quick, technical guitar work,” Peterson wrote. “While most garage acts bring the volume and heightened presence of sound, Tiger High complemented this with nuanced musicianship and intricate breakdowns and bridges.”
Meanwhile, The Nashville Scene hailed the band’s live performance as “a loud set of psychedelic soul-garage that was dipped in just the right amount of Costello-y organ.” My Old Kentucky raved, “By the end of their 30-minute power set, the parking lot swooned with label reps and media folks wanting to know what the hell just happened.”
According to Jake, Tiger High’s work ethic is much like the early days of Big Star, just a group of friends burning the midnight oil in the studio. “The sound of Tiger High,” he explained, “is the sound of record nerds making late night rock tunes in their clubhouse.”
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