Thursday, March 25, 2010

Top 50 Albums of the 00s - #25: Tapes 'n Tapes - The Loon

Yep, we're counting down the top 50. Click here for overview and criteria.

When I was assigning the Top 50 at the start of this project, I felt really happy with the order. I had given it a ton of thought. But when I returned to the album to do my "research" (enjoying another listen), I realized I had to make an amendment. The Loon by Tapes 'n Tapes is perhaps just not an album that sticks in your head when it's not on. But once you give it a spin, you have it stuck in your stereo for weeks before are ready to put it down. So perhaps it's fitting that this album arrived at #25, just barely getting into the top half of the list. I'll be honest, some of these entries have been a bit hard to get written. The rest should be loaded with nothing but high praise, and this record is no exception.

Tapes 'n Tapes really don't give a fuck. You can tell this because they called a song "Ten Gallon Ascots." But more than that, it's clear that they are not going to follow any convention laid out for them. While they get compared to Pavement and various other 90s bands that packed fuzz into their guitar work, they are have easily transcended any of those comparisons.

There's something unsettling in this album. A big part of that is Josh Grier's vocals. He consistently sounds like a teenager about to cry from some deep seated frustration. It's hardly welcoming. On top of that, the guitars and drums are not here to present a pretty melody. But the quirky rhythms in this album are so compelling, that all of that fuzzy weirdness settles in around them.

"Insistor" is a masterpiece, and would get this album into the Top 50 all on its own. Part spaghetti western, part Pixies homage and all energy all the time (even when Grier is whispering), it is one of my favorite songs of all time. I will never have enough Insistor in my life. I will listen to it again and again until the day I die. From there the album really pushes the listener, taking unexpected turns and winning on most of them.

The last track, "Jakov's Suite" is the dessert and coffee you didn't think you had room for, but gleefully stuff down your throat. Well, at the beginning, it's all coffee - a jittery, frenetic assemblage of wild riffing and light drumming. But then a minute and a half in, someone dumps a gigantic piece of black forest cake in front of you. You down it bite for bite, and when you're done, you're so damn full, someone else has to drive you home.

The band's second release, Walk It Off, was missing something. I can't say what exactly. Perhaps after the indie attention they gained with The Loon, they started to give too much of a fuck. Here's hoping they try to wild things up again in the 10s. Lord knows they're capable.

Previous Entries:
#26 - Kings of Leon - Aha Shake Heartbreak
#27 - Idlewild - 100 Broken Windows
#28 - Common - Be
#29 - The Futureheads - News and Tributes
#30 - The Black Keys - Rubber Factory
#31 - Wolfmother - Wolfmother
#32 - Juno - A Future Lived in Past Tense
#33 - Bad Religion - The New America
#34 - Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand
#35 - Rodrigo y Gabriela - Rodrigo y Gabriela

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