Tapes n Tapes - The Loon

Tapes ‘n Tapes are a band custom made for those ‘whacky', but ultimately lazy and over-simplified, band comparison metaphors (ie. ‘they sound like Pavement and the Pixies riding a tandem bike by a tree lined creek while eating jam sandwiches'). The fact is that they deserve better than that. Sure there are elements to their sound that could be attributed to others, but this is not a photocopied replica. Rather it's a collage that pieces together influences into a cohesive (if eclectic) whole that sounds fresh and new. It's like playing a game of spot the influence. Yes, there's some obvious elements of the Pixies and Pavement, but there's also sounds from The Violent Femmes, Weezer, Dinosaur Jr. and maybe even a little dash of Tom Waits.


Musically, the album is, as mentioned before, eclectic. For example, ‘The Iliad' starts as a soft acoustic folk song with a bird-like synth warbling in the background; ‘The Insistor' is a country tinged rockabilly stomper (complete with reverb soaked guitars) and ‘In Houston' adds some swing to the foreboding xylophone that opens the track (before it morphs into an electro-rock song). The key to the success of ‘The Loon' is that it's all performed with an exuberance and passion that brings the songs to life – the whole album bristles with an infectious energy that grabs you from the first listen.


The story goes that after a self recorded EP in 2004, which led to a national tour of the U.S of A, the Tapes (from Minnesota incidentally) recorded and released ‘The Loon' themselves. Following the initial success of the album (and much industry schmoozing) XL Recordings have released it worldwide. Perhaps as a result of these DIY roots the album has a loose, raw tone to it. Drums rattle and crash beneath angular, jagged guitars and distorted, similarly jagged, vocals (Josh Grier's claim in ‘Buckle' that he ‘… can't sing in key' may be an exaggeration - but he does have his moments!) Nevertheless, the skewed, off-kilter tones of the vocals sit perfectly with the rest of the instrumentation.


Most of the lyrics on ‘The Loon' are as twisted as their musical accompaniment – abstract word associations (with a taste for alliteration – ie. ‘I hate you from the heart / I came, I went, I jawed, I saw / you came came went went / you know I saw' from ‘The Cowbell') sit next to more conventional tomes about lovers, sex and …cows. For example, ‘The Iliad' is a love song inspired by Homer's classic poem while ‘The Insistor' details a troubled, dangerous, relationship involving abusive families, ‘bail bond monkeys' and lip hugging.


In short, Tapes ‘n Tapes are unique, fun, exciting and difficult to pigeon-hole – all very good things in my book!

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