Monday, January 17, 2011

Tapes 'n Tapes Goes Outside The Comfort Zone

Tapes 'n TapesContinuing to build on the success of its self released debut album in 2004 (rereleased in 2006 by XL Recordings), Tapes 'n Tapes has evolved from malaise to melodic and halfway back again after walking away from XL Recordings. Leaving the label behind gave the band a chance to return to their roots and record their third album in Minneapolis.

There, Tapes 'n Tapes spent two weeks inside The Terrarium with their longtime sound engineer, Drew Malamud. After recording, frontman Josh Grier took it to Peter Katis to lend his signature sound to the mix with some oversight.

Did it work? The result is a sturdier sound that has given critics more than enough reason to write them off, some claiming the new album is a whole bunch of sameness while others lament they liked the "sellout" sound, Walk It Off, better. This is what happens to bands over built by buzz. They receive un-buzz for not delivering less original sound.

Outside proves you cannot be experimental unless you experiment.

All in all, the new album sometimes sounds more pop rock than indie but there are a few solid singles that will help Tapes 'n Tapes survive the apparent discovery buzz hangover. While no one can really say that this album was worth the three-year wait between releases, it also seems unfair to dismiss the album outright when you stick to the most promising tracks.

Badaboom, SWM, Desert Plane, Outro, and Freak Out shake off much of the album's overall sluggishness and create something that is more original than previous efforts. These five, on their own, might have even made a great EP with Freak Out as the lead in for a faster-paced indie romp.

Clearly, while Grier (guitar, vocals), Jeremy Hanson (drums), Matt Kretzman (keyboards, horns), and Erik Appelwick (bass) felt they had learned enough to resurrect ibid records, they still have plenty to learn. Self-promoting an established band is different than buzzing up a novelty that once had two guitars, a bass, and CD player covering drums.

Back in 2006, the story was as striking as the music on the charming indie recap. We passed on them back then, but other people grabbed on the idea of innocent beginnings, with Grier graduating from college, moving to Minnesota, and making a band that put together an album inside a cold winter cabin. That all sounds fun to write about. But nowadays, it has to be about the music.

Outside By Tapes 'n Tapes Spins For 4.8 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

I find myself much more bullish about the future of Tapes 'n Tapes than most critics, especially those saying they're a flash in the pan. The album's sound is much more original than previous releases, with only the larger balance sounding as if they considered salvaging some Walk It Off fans. Let 'em go. Lesson learned.

Tapes 'n Tapes does its best work on four, maybe five, tracks mentioned. You can find Outside on iTunes. Outside retails for a little less on Amazon.
blog comments powered by Disqus