ATLK Track Eighteen: Black Tambourine to Vivian Girls

Song 18 of 19 in the …One Last Kiss retread, otherwise known as After the Last Kiss…

Black Tambourine was, in hindsight a kind of indiepop super group. At the time they existed they were just a bunch of anonymous kids in Washington, DC. The band counted as members Archie Moore and Brian Nelson who both went on to Velocity Girl, Pam Berry who went on to be in the Belmondo, Gloworm, Shapiros, Castaway Stones, and the Pines (wow, she’s been in a lot of bands). She also co-founded Chickfactor magazine with Gail O’Hara, and she had the honor of having a Shins song named after here. Mike Shulman, the drummer went on to play in Whorl and found Slumberland records. The band are credited with being one of the first to employ a combination of C-86 and British dream pop in their sound that so many other American indie bands would mine as well. They managed to be influential without actually releasing an album. All of their output is compiled in one place and still available on a Slumberland cd called Complete Recordings.

mp3: Black Tambourine – We Can’t Be Friends

The Vivian Girls sound like they are direct descendants of Black Tambourine channeling the sounds of the Shop Assistants and holding dear the Motown girl groups and the Phil Spector wall of sound. Currently they seem to be one of the it bands residing in the New York City environs. They are at the center of a scene that includes like minded NYC bands the Crystal Stilts and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. Being an it band, doesn’t mean they’re huge, but they have created a buzz among music geeks. Mention the Vivian Girls to your mom and she’ll look at you cross eyed. It’s not like telling her about the Fleet Foxes, who’s she’s probably heard of, at least if your mom lives in Seattle. So the Vivian Girls have a lot of buzz an album that’s currently out of print and a few singles.. Their out of print album will be reissued on vinyl and compact disc this fall courtesy of In the Red. In the meantime you can buy some of their singles over at their myspace.

mp3: Vivian Girls – Where Do You Run ( from the S/T album, soon to be reissued on In the Red)

And their on the road too:

Sept 2 Brooklyn, NY – Death by Audio
Sept 6 New York, NY – South Street Seaport
Sept 12 Swarthmore, PA – Swarthmore College
Sept 19 New York, NY – Cake Shop
Sept 20 Princeton, NJ – Terrace Club
Sept 21 Philadelphia, PA – Danger Danger Gallery
Sept 24 Nashville, TN – Exit/In
Sept 26 Memphis, TN – Hi-Tone (Goner Fest)
Sept 29 Knoxville, TN – Pilot Light
Oct 1 Baltimore, MD – Ottobar
Oct 3 New York, NY – Rocks Off Concert Cruise
Oct 12 Boston, MA – Great Scott
Oct 13 Danbury, CT – Heirloom Arts Theatre
Oct 15 New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom
Oct 16 Brooklyn, NY – Market Hotel
Oct 17 Baltimore, MD – Sonar
Oct 18 Philadelphia, PA – The Barbary
Oct 19 Washington, DC – Rock and Roll Hotel
Nov 8 New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom
Nov 10 Boston, MA – Paradise
Dec 2 London, England – Brixton Windmill
Dec 3 London, England – Old Blue Last
Dec 4 Nottingham, England – The Social
Dec 5 Liverpool, England – Club Evol
Dec 6 Glasgow, Scotland – Captain’s Rest
Dec 7 Leeds, England – Cockpit
Dec 8 Coventry, England – Colosseum
Dec 9 London, England – Madame Jojo’s – White Heat
Dec 10 Manchester, England – The Deaf Institute
Dec 12 London, England – Vice Kills Proud Galleries
Dec 13 Bristol, England – Club Kute at Cooler


  1. Mike · August 21, 2008

    Two slight corrections re: Black Tambourine. We all switched off instruments, but Mike (me) mostly played guitar. And Black Tambourine was concurrent with Whorl and Velocity Girl, not before. Oh, and Brian was in Whorl at that time. All small details that nobody really cares about, but there you go.

    Totally digging this series of posts, btw. It’s a great idea.

  2. Toby · August 21, 2008

    Mike, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into doing this series. Aside from knowing that I liked everything on One Last Kiss, and having various albums and singles from a lot of the bands, there were a bunch of bands that once I started doing this, I realized I didn’t know too much about. So your corrections and additions are great information. Thanks!

  3. douglas martin · September 9, 2008

    i think it’s funny that vivian girls are now downplaying the black tambourine influence, now that more and more people are pointing it out.

    but i still love them. and your taste in music.

  4. Toby · September 9, 2008

    They’re downplaying it? It’s a good influence to have and not as blatant as someone like Elastica and their Wire/Stranglers ‘influences’.

  5. douglas martin · September 19, 2008

    yeah, they’re downplaying it, now. there was a blog that interviewed crystal stilts about their c-86-era influences, and they tried to do the same with vivian girls, only the girls said the comparisons were overstated.

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