Tape Girl is the solo project of Beth Rivera, who only has a few songs out but is already one of the brightest new voices in the growing New Tone ska movement. The term New Tone was coined by Bad Operation and it’s continued to catch on thanks to usage by Jeremy Hunter (Skatune Network, JER, We Are The Union) and other ska musicians who share the same goals of approaching ska as a forward-thinking genre with plenty of room for innovation, while pushing the fight against bigotry and oppression to the forefront. And in fact, I first noticed Tape Girl’s music thanks to Bad Operation and Jeremy co-signing it, and it’s easy to see why Tape Girl is winning them over.
Beth also calls Tape Girl “bedroom punk” and “laptop ska,” both of which are apt descriptors of her sound, which takes a lo-fi bedroom pop approach to ska. Her choice of covers give you a good idea too. Her first single “No Thoughts, Head Empty” came backed by a Bomb the Music Industry! cover, and she referred to BTMI’s Jeff Rosenstock as “an extremely influential musician in my life.” Jeff’s own anything-goes approach has made room for both ska and bedroom pop over the years, and if you like his music, there’s a good chance you’ll like Tape Girl too. She also covered DIY punks Prince Daddy and the Hyena on her latest EP/single ...And You’re Doing Nothing, along with songs by two other lo-fi/DIY artists, Ashley Ninelives and Peach Rings. A lot of people hear “ska-punk” and assume it means ’90s skate punk, but Tape Girl’s punk side comes from something much more modern and shambolic. Call it New Tone or laptop ska or whatever, but definitely don’t call it a revival. This feels fresh.
As cool as Tape Girl’s covers are, it’s her original songs “No Thoughts, Head Empty” and “...And You’re Doing Nothing” that make it obvious that she’s an artist to watch. She’s a talented singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist who played almost everything on these songs herself (including guitar, bass, drums, celesta, and… Sega Genesis), and both songs show off totally different sides of her music. “No Thoughts, Head Empty” leans ska-punk, while “...And You’re Doing Nothing” is more of a soulful, traditional ska song that Beth says was influenced by The Skatalites and The Slackers. They both hit so hard because Beth takes those influences and reshapes them into something new.
Speaking about “No Thoughts, Head Empty,” Beth says it’s “a song about listening to music and becoming so infatuated in the albums and songs you listen to that you end up losing your voice and ideas that you want to sure to the world because you think everyone else has already said what you wanted to say, leaving you with No Thoughts, and your Head Empty.”
Listen to everything Tape Girl’s released so far below, The Prince Daddy and Peach Rings covers are download-only exclusives with ...And You’re Doing Nothing, which is a name-your-price download on Bandcamp.