Douglas Martin’s Dirty Shoes: On Tacocat’s “Retrograde” and Back-Spinning Planets

Douglas Martin offers a little astrology lesson in the guise of reviewing the Seattle punk band's recent single.
By    November 4, 2019

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Douglas Martin‘s tarot reader thought he was a Scorpio. He is kind of mysterious.

For about a year and a half I dated a witch, and we used to joke all the time about how Mercury in retrograde is the pumpkin spice latte of astrology. Nowadays whenever someone gets rear-ended or stubs their toe on the foot of their bed, someone is around to blame Mercury in retrograde. There are people I know who have apps on their phones which tell them whether or not Mercury is in retrograde, which seems like a bigger waste to me than just reading your horoscope at the beginning of the month.

In astrology, Mercury is the planet of communication and transportation. It affects travel, the technology we use to keep in touch with each other (so for virtually all of us, it’s our cell phones). Well then, professor (*Walter White voice*), what’s a retrograde? As you might imagine, the planets in astrology move in a forward motion, around and around in orbit, but usually forward. From our vantage point on Earth, sometimes other planets seems as though they’ve reversed course. They’re still moving forward but don’t appear as such. This is called a retrograde. Mercury in retrograde is infamous for misunderstandings, botched or confusing emails, phone breakdowns, horrid or otherwise inconvenient traffic conditions and mishaps. Sometimes people from our past show back up in our lives.

An advantage of the three-week period that pops up every so often is it’s a very good time to revise projects and plans.┬áMercury in retrograde is hardly ever an optimal time to start new projects, sign important contracts, or dive into new relationships. Which makes it interesting for Tacocat, at this point a Seattle punk institution, to release a new single on October 31st, the first day of retrograde. Hopefully it was recorded before the shadow period.

Gaining a reputation for often hysterical, sometimes very poignant bubblegum-punk, the quartet’s sound on “Retrograde” is a little darker than normal, descending guitars blaring and spitting out haunted punk house melodies over lurching bass and alternately plodding and thunderous drums. Singer Emily Nokes offers a stream-of-consciousness retrograde lesson of her own, citing the communication breakdowns and confusion which happens three or four times a year. Stories start in the middle; every day statements seem like puzzles, even the ones that come out of your own mouth. Noted fans of astrology themselves, the idea of Tacocat providing a service by indulging their listeners with good advice wrapped up in a super-catchy post-punk-leaning jam gives the band a single that fits snugly into their singular identity.

Mercury will be in retrograde until November 20. Crank this song at full blast and beware of exes.

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