Wednesday, April 9, 2008

First Blush: Tapes 'n Tapes - Walk It Off

Minneapolis' Tapes 'n Tapes have been lauded in the indie rawk community, compared to such artists as The Pixies, Pavement, and Modest Mouse. I've been a fan ever since catching their set at the Pitchfork Music Festival a couple years back and have seen them twice since. Their first full-length, 2006's The Loon, is the kind of album that just keeps growing on you with quirky rhythms and catchy guitar work. I couldn't be more excited for this new release, so let's get to it!
(Note - doing First Blush a little differently than in the past - let me know which you prefer.)

Track 1 - Le Ruse
The album kicks off with fuzzy dissonance that's hardly catchy. The song feels more like a "track 3." It doesn't exactly grab our attention. But it is punchy and picks up a bit towards the end. Plus, who doesn't like the word "ruse"?

Track 2 - Time Of Songs
This one feels very deliberate. It's not heavy. It's not quick. It's not really anything. "I'll pull you from the bottom and I'll leave you on the floor." That pretty much sums up how this tune is going. They're not coming out with a bang.

Track 3 - Hang Them All
All right, now things are finally picking up. This is their first single (and I've heard it live a coupla times before - maybe that helps). Skip along and get us to a thicker chorus. Again, the mix here is far from heavy, but finally, the tune is nice and catchy.

Track 4 - Headshock
The chorus is too fat for my stereo. I may have to pick up the album on vinyl just for this song. The vocals are somehow both sing-songy and breathless. At the 2:00 mark, there's some sizzle. I'm feeling better about this album already.

Track 5 - Conquest
Frontman Josh Grier sounds just like Black Francis at the outset. Hence all the Pixies comparisons. Outside of the vocals, those comparisons are off-base, but I see why people gravitate to them. Another song with a solid chorus, but flat verses, and this one is mostly verses.

Track 6 - Say Back Something
The start of this song sounds like any song ever made. So does the rest of it. I realize I should explain myself, but I'm not gonna.

Track 7 - Demon Apple
"I, am, the demon of the apple's eye." I'm not a big lyrics guy, and with TnT, it's often better to just ignore them. Grier makes them up after the songs are written, and they aren't designed to necessarily make sense. But I dig that line. Ahhh, I remember this one from live shows. It's a good'un. Grier finally sounds a bit angry and torqued up. We've been waiting. And at 2:58 it jumps a bit. This one's a hit in my book (though certainly not on Hot 92 or whatever).

Track 8 - Blunt
And now we're rockin' it out a bit. "In the night, in the night. I call. You call." Again, not the greatest lyrics, but I'm digging the pace. And at 2:28, it really goes and goes. If the vocals weren't all distorted, this could be a hit single.

Track 9 - George Michael
In an interview, Grier confessed that he named this song because the guitar intro resembles "Faith" by George Michael. That's just silly. But this song ain't silly. Third solid track in a row. It's a quintessential TnT song that has each of the instruments battling one another and not really working together. But it all works out anyway.

Track 10 - Anvil
A peaceful, quiet one. Pretty decent track closing with the line "it is calm" (I think). It doesn't stand out but hopefully makes a nice break between the previous three and the two remaining. Come on, let's rock to the finish line, boys.

Track 11 - Lines
It's dark, nearly morose. Parts in this one remind me of Soundgarden's last album without all the screaming. Oooh, no I'm wrong. Here we go - at 2:07 it's like the rollercoaster is being yanked up the hill. 2:44 wheeeeeee! The corkscrew comes at 3:45. Then the ride's over. Please do not exit until the cars have come to a complete stop.

Track 12 - The Dirty Dirty
I can't think of a better song title. And thirty seconds in, I'm awfully hopeful. This is dark, too. But it's an angrier dark. The song keeps clicking along and then stops abruptly.

Well, all in all it's pretty good. I can't help feeling like the songs I've already heard played better live than they did on the album. Some of the power and energy from The Loon seems absent here. We're missing the crashing downbeat thing we get on Crazy Eights and Ten Gallon Ascot. The second half appears to be far more interesting than the first half, and it's a release I won't judge too definitively yet since The Loon took so long to fully appreciate. Still, there doesn't appear to be an Insistor or Jakov's Theme on the album. So give it a guarded thumbs up, though right now, I am doubtful it's their best work.

It's only $7.99 at Best Buy this week, so go pick up a copy. Seriously, that's like free. What are you waiting for? Also, they're on Conan tonight (sorry for the late notice), and at Metro on Friday w/ White Denim. See you at the show.

1 comment:

Kozy said...

I like the new First Blush format. It is a smooth read.