Tiger High puts Memphis garage rock back on the map with ‘Myth Is This’ debut

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Memphis-based garage rock quartet Tiger High distributed their debut studio record, “Myth Is This,” in 2012. Read all about the album’s Phil Spector, Wall of Sound-inspired aesthetic — reverb and tons of delayed echo — albeit with a psychedelic, punk rock edge. Left to right are drummer Greg Roberson, lead singer-guitarist Jake Vest, keyboardist Toby Vest [Jake’s elder brother], and then-bassist Greg Faison. Photography by Dan Ball / Courtesy of Trashy Creatures Records

Tiger High’s Myth Is This is an unbelievably strong debut album for an up and coming indie garage rock band. Featuring passionate vocals and tight instrumentation, the record proves that there is an alternative to the auto-tuned, unimaginatively programmed beats permeating much of modern radio.

Tiger High is a tight knit group of musicians all born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. A melting pot for rock and roll, gospel, rhythm and blues, soul, and country, the city is also home to Elvis Presley, Stax Records, and Chips Moman’s American Sound Studio.

The rock quartet is composed of drummer and leader Greg Roberson [Reigning Sound, Arthur Lee’s Love, the Trashed Romeos, Jack Oblivian, Compulsive Gamblers], lead singer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Jake Vest [Jack Oblivian, the Trashed Romeos], and two of Vest’s longtime musical partners, brother Toby Vest on organ and Greg Faison on a vintage Epiphone Viola bass.

Tiger High is a shining example of a flourishing, self-contained outfit. All 12 songs on Myth Is This were written by the band. The record was produced by the band. Official videos for the title cut and “Carry My Love” were directed by Jake. Toby even mixed and engineered the project at his very own recording studio, High-Low Recording.

Much of the record has a Phil Spector, Wall of Sound aesthetic — including reverb and tons of delayed echo — albeit with a psychedelic, punk rock edge.

The title cut may be the best song from a production standpoint. With whirling sound effects, ominous, pounding drums anchoring the rhythm section, and acoustic and electric guitars picking a desolate path, Jake Vest virtually screams out from the mire, “I’ve got no time to waste!”

“Carry My Love” offers a more conciliatory, upbeat tone as Vest asks his loving flame to always be there to help shoulder his burdens. Plus, you can’t help but get up and dance during the cool guitar interlude.

“Hot Black Honda” and “Riding the Wave” conclude the album and are the most direct homages to the underground Memphis garage rock scene of the mid-’60s. Perhaps subconsciously a nod to Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys’ classic sound — “I Can Hear Music” being a prime example — “Honda” is especially an essential performance.

Just listen to Vest’s jubilant exultation of summer as he reaches the chorus — “Oh how we’ll get away, in my hot black honda…ohh, summer is back again!” — followed by a sublime cascade of ascending guitar solos and capped off by a catchy organ riff.

When you see the guys in concert or on YouTube — minus Roberson, who has a quintessential, just out-of-sight drummer look — a Buddy Holly-Elvis Costello-Rivers Cuomo vibe is definitely palpable. Nerds who know how to rock and roll, if you will.

Myth Is This is available as an eight-song cassette through a joint venture between Memphis-based Trashy Creatures Records and Fullerton, California-based Burger Records, or through Trashy Creatures Records as a limited edition, hand assembled, and numbered CD featuring 12 tracks and two super sweet stickers. Incidentally, Roberson runs Trashy Creatures Records in his down time.

Visit the Trashy Creatures Records’ digital store to hear complete samples of all tracks. You may purchase the album in MP3 or FLAC if interested. For the physical edition, head on over to the secure web store. Give Myth Is This, or subsequent records Catacombs After Party [2012] and Inside the Acid Coven [2014] a spin — you won’t be disappointed.

© Jeremy Roberts, 2012, 2017. All rights reserved. To touch base, email jeremylr@windstream.net and mention which story led you my way. I appreciate it.

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Retro pop culture interviews & lovin’ someone fierce sustain this University of Georgia Master of Agricultural Leadership alum. Email: jeremylr@windstream.net

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