Tapes N Tapes is a quartet from Minneapolis. They formed in the winter of 2003 and have since self-released an EP and a new full length, the latter of which will be the subject of this review. In recent months, Tapes N Tapes have become the indie rock darlings of the blogosphere, with countless music blogs all singing their praises. Two years ago, most of us would have been saying, "blog? What the hell is that?", much less care about what they have to say. But today things have changed. New technology has led to a monumental shift in the process of new music discovery and now, any kid with a computer and an opinion has the ability to review records and share their thoughts with the masses. Not all of them know what they're talking about, but there are a number of sites that are truly on the cusp of new music discovery, with A&R guys and other music hounds checking in daily to see what they have on tap. Whether it's former Spin columnist Sarah Lewitinn (a.k.a. Ultragrrl) taking credit for Louis XIV signing to Atlantic and using her cred to form her own Stolen Transmission Records, or the Clap Your Hands Say Yeah phenomenon (selling hundreds of records a week with no record label based on an incredibly strong online presence), blogs have proven themselves to be a viable piece of the new music discovery puzzle. That said, Tapes N Tapes are the next "it" band in the blogosphere and after spending some time with their debut LP, the reason why became more than clear.
Called The Loon, the band's debut album is just the breath of fresh air I needed to kick off 2006 with a bang. Simply from the opening track, "Just Drums", it's clear that Tapes N Tapes are a band to be reckoned with. Beginning with a simple, atonal electric guitar intro, the song bursts forth with a pounding energy reminiscent of the best moments of The Arcade Fire's Funeral. Not afraid to experiment with unusual time signatures or different instruments and sounds, Tapes N Tapes are able to combine those elements with incredibly catchy melodies and hooks that will undoubtedly make this album a staple of the indie rock scene in 2006. "In Houston" recalls images of some of Bright Eyes' best work, beginning slow and soft with whispering vocals and building into an emotional explosion of swirling, feedback-drenched guitars with fluttering, intense and screaming vocals that seem to push forth from the very depths of frontman Josh Grier's soul. "Cowbell" is a driving, psychedelic folk rock slice of perfection. Quickly-strummed acoustic guitar and slow, dripping bassline make way to hand claps, fuzzy lead guitar and chanting, sing-along choruses. Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention "Insistor". Destined to be one of the best songs of the year, it exemplifies why Tapes N Tapes will rule the school in 2006. With a rolling snare and countrified guitar work, the song cruises along, giving way to a stadium sized chorus that I can easily envision thousands of adoring fans singing along with while pumping their fists in the air.
This album brings forth a band achieving at a rate that far surpasses the majority of their contemporaries. When you consider that they have achieved everything up to this point completely on their own, that they have no label representation and that they can hold their own in a live setting as well, you'll know that Tapes N Tapes are the real deal. Kudos music bloggers. You've done it again.
Tapes N Tapes