Playing Checkers

from by Tracy Island

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    Tracy Island is an electric duo from Brooklyn that plays progressive retro-pop: songs with form and sophisticated lyrics that push boundaries, and music which draws inspiration from the 60s, 70s and 80s. They’ve garnered comparisons as eclectic as Blondie and Richard Thompson.

    Since the year 2000, Liza & Ian Roure’s musical collaborations mixing New York City lo-fi new wave, West Coast jangle-psychedelia, and the poppier side of British folk rock have been heard worldwide on three studio albums and two international tours featuring Liza’s songwriting as Liza & the WonderWheels (2002-2010) and several more as The Larch (1997-2014) – see also www.dadaparadox.com featuring Ian’s songwriting and 12-string Rikenbacker guitar with Liza on melodica, keyboards and vocal harmonies.

    2003: AND THE WONDERWHEELS is released - “Here we have a singer/songwriter with not only the intellectual capacity to craft great songs but to also perform them with a flair that has not been seen for some time. Liza, together with the WonderWheels, has released an album full of many reference points but one that is also distinctly individual; labels do not need to be put on an artist such as this nor on her very tight band. Liza and the band shine in their own right, making this a must buy album.” – Tony Bates, 94.1 FM 3WBC, Melbourne, Australia

    2006: MEET THE ANIMAL is released - “…what they do is make great music for the people of New York. The band is a cross between traditional folk and melody, scratch punk and gritty rock and roll… Track 7 “Loops” reminds me a lot of Yo La Tengo. Quite a compliment! Visit the band. Get on the mail list. Pick up some music!” – Ryan Spaulding, Ryan’s Smashing Life, Boston, US

    2010: PAVLOV’S GARAGE is released - “Their best album… Liza’s always had ferocious vocal chops…The opening cut After Last Night perfectly captures the vibe of being stuck at the dayjob but still resonating from the fun of the previous evening… The catchy, riff-driven Where’s My Robot Maid sarcastically pokes fun at blind faith in technology… Learning Lessons, a pounding girl-power anthem comes on like an edgier version of the Motels... The backbeat anthem Straight to the Body evokes the Go Go’s…The two big live hits here are the ferociously sarcastic Petroleum… and No Exceptions… There’s also The Hats, a scampering rocker… Smug Ugly which shifts the time back another ten years to the early 70s with a darkly psychedelic bluesy vibe… and Take Us to the Stars, the only rock song to celebrate climbing Mount Rainer… a creepy, breathtaking art-rock epic driven by Ian’s magisterial, otherworldly bluesy guitar… Count this among the best and most satisfying releases of 2010.” – Alan Young, Lucid Culture, New York, US

    Duo performances since the summer of 2012 under new project name Tracy Island have been well received for allowing intimate access to Liza’s Deborah Harry-esque vocals, politically aware lyrical intricacies and memorably melodic tunes, as well as Ian’s guitar virtuosity.

    2015: WAR NO MORE, the first Tracy Island album, is released November 3 with a party at the Bowery Electric in New York City.

    The nine songs were written by Liza, and Tracy Island played all the instruments on the album with Liza laying down vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, drums, drum programming and percussion and Ian contributing electric 6 and 12-string guitars, vocals, bass, and percussion. WAR NO MORE was recorded by Wayne Koehler at the Comfy Cave in Brooklyn, and mastered by Scott Anthony at Storybook Sound.

    “Now, at last, Tracy Island have a characteristically catchy, brand-new debut album, War No More… What You Want, a perfect marriage between cheery 60s Carnaby Street riffage and vamping, watery, chorus-box new wave… the metaphorically-loaded Playing Checkers, Ian’s icy strobe guitar rising over its balletesque rhythms up to its vintage soul-infused chorus… the two go back to the skinny-tie era with the seductively propulsive Midnight Lightning. Low Strung reaches back toward 70s folk-rock but with a Beatlesque stroll. Can Better Days Be Far Behind is a real stunner… The album’s most gorgeous and troubled number is Cold Wind, the duo’s aching vocal harmonies over Ian’s ominously chugging bassline and super cooled rivulets of vintage chorus-box guitar. The enigmatic instrumental break midway through offers a fond nod back to the surprisingly focused jamming that the WonderWheels would often break out… Land of Opportunity, part early 70s pastoral Pink Floyd, part Richard & Linda Thompson, part new wave… successful detour into simmeringly wounded Gram Parsons / Emmylou Harris Americana with I Spy. The album comes full circle, back to catchy new wave with Message In My Head and its wry shout-outs to a classic by X and also a 70s pop cheeseball by somebody else. Ian’s meticulously timbered blend of flash and focus have never been in better form, and the same can be said for Liza’s early-spring brook of a voice, so clear that you can see yourself all the way to its depths. You’ll see this album on the best of 2015 page at the end of next month.” Delarue, New York Music Daily (November 2015)

    The creative heart of Tracy Island beats strongly and wants us all to become simultaneously both a more genuine and more iconic version of what we already are. Sail up and knock on the clubhouse door for art rock sounds that feel unique, accessible and true.

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lyrics

Playing Checkers

Am I where I am? Am I looking out my eyes?
Can I control my hands / Or my thoughts of different lands?
I do but I don’t know / Things get blurry when I go
Am I really sure that I shut and locked the door?

Playing Checkers, ah Playing Checkers
Playing Checkers oh, oh no

Is the projector manned? Can I watch the game again?
What is fact and what is dream / How do I know anything?
Since I try I don’t see / Irresponsibility
Can I be secure that the gas is off for sure?

Playing Checkers, ah Playing Checkers
Playing Checkers oh, oh no

Moving forward only have to double back and
Move diagonal everybody’s keeping track of
What enslaves me what when known will set me free?
Am I your baby? / Can you really double / Can your really double me?

Playing Checkers, ah Playing Checkers
Playing Checkers oh, oh no

Playing Checkers, ah Playing Checkers
Playing Checkers oh, oh no

credits

from War No More, released November 3, 2015

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about

Tracy Island Brooklyn, New York

Tracy Island is an electric duo from Brooklyn that plays progressive retro-pop: songs with form and sophisticated lyrics that push boundaries, and music which draws inspiration from the 60s, 70s and 80s. We’ve garnered comparisons as eclectic as Blondie and Richard Thompson. ... more

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