Yellow, with song titles printed on the front
I have no idea who is actually in the band Sad Horse. And honestly, I don't really care. I could dig around online and find clues—its a boy/girl duo that's rarely played live this year and released one wonderful (and super out-of-print) 7-inch on Mississippi Records. But when it comes to the underground world of cassette tapes, part of the fun is reveling in the mystery. Just who is behind the tape? How did it get made? And, in the case of Sad Horse, how did such catchy, outta-tune punk rock gems stay hidden for so long?
Sad Horse's self-titled cassette collects 17 songs in a scant 21 minutes. It begins with a mission statement (“Sad Horse Theme One”) and ends with its inverse (“Sad Horse Theme Two”). And in-between we also get some of the breeziest, most listenable no-fi bedroom prank-pop songs since Beat Happening decided to join the Sub Pop crowd. It's essential stuff for people who grew up believing that anyone can write and sing a simple tune. The song's might be short and punky but that doesn't mean they are slight; each track is jam packed with weird time signatures and odd structures and unforgettable choruses. There's a song called “Rain” and one called “Gangsters” and one called “Happy Birthday.” This shit is legit.
My favorite song is probably “Trick or Treat,” but that changes just about every time I pop that cassette in my tape deck. I get the sense that the band really cares about its songs and craft and even presentation. So maybe the art isn't fancy—Sad Horse doesn't need any gimmicks to move me.
Sad Horse plays tomorrow night at Mudai Lounge (801 NE Broadway) with Hornet Leg and Magic Johnson. 9:30 pm. Free. 21+. The band also plays at Valentines on Tuesday.