Tapes n Tapes: Walk It Off
Fuck hype. It’s overrated. There have been several incredible bands in recent history that have fallen victim to the subsequent backlash that comes with the glory generated by the internet-buzz version of hype. A highly-lauded debut album can catapult a band, particularly in indie rock, to stardom in the form of sell-out tours and good album sales. However, the result of setting the bar so high with a first record is usually an unwarranted bitterness toward the sophomore effort. But, let’s get something straight. Creating good music is not a stroke of luck and critical acclaim is not determined by a lottery. A band that debuts with a brilliant record is usually talented enough to make a comparable follow-up. And, despite the possibility that such a follow-up may not be as good as the debut album, it usually ends up being a quality record. For instance, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s self-titled debut took the internet and then the world by storm. Alec Ounsworth’s voice is a force to be reckoned with and the driving music anchoring his delivery is equally as mesmerizing. Thus, the massive critical acclaim was much deserved; but, there is a price to pay for such a rapid rise in fame. I once spoke with Scott Booker, long-time manager of The Flaming Lips and Co-Founder of World’s Fair Management, about CYHSY’s injection into indie rock prominence. We agreed that they were a good band but he did mention that, “they became popular because they were popular,” and this sort of popularity comes with a price of inevitable backlash, as if critics and fans are reprimanding bands for not putting in their time. So, when Ounsworth and co. followed their debut with Some Loud Thunder, an album with less of a fresh sound, but equally as unique, many listeners and critics unfairly branded the release as mediocre. Another band that is treading the same waters as CYHSY is the Twin Cities indie rock outfit Tapes ‘n Tapes. With a “Best New Music” stamp of approval, The Loon shot Tapes ‘n Tapes into the outer atmosphere of indie music and rightfully so. Josh Grier’s shaky, tension-filled vocals are wedded in perfection with the band’s powerful rhythm section and dynamic song structures. Although The Loon is indie rock at its absolute best, Tapes ‘n Tapes’ follow-up, Walk It Off, is an excellent record with just as much force and virtuosity as the debut.
There are many songs on Walk It Off that could fit comfortably on the The Loon, as they maintain the sound that we all came to adore in 2006. “Headshock” sounds like a faster version of “10 Gallon Ascots” with a slower introduction that rocks into a pounding chorus. “Hang Them All” is similar to The Loon’s opener “Just Drums,” with an energetic drum beat and a smooth, twangy, Pavement-style guitar melody. Sadly, there is no song on Walk It Off that is as desperately anxious as The Loon’s “Omaha,” but “Anvil” comes quite close and has to be one of the best songs on the album. Beginning at slow pace with a light guitar chord, Grier sings, “Anvil come, I need your fire,” calling for the anvil to crash down and create a change. As the song progresses, atmospheric guitars and sounds blend perfectly with lyrics depicting a world of stagnancy that is in dire need of a spark. Aside from “Omaha,” Grier’s voice has never been so beautifully restrained.
So, fuck hype. Tapes ‘n Tapes is a talented band and nothing more should be expected of Walk It Off. No current band has blended the sound of The Pixies and Pavement as well as Tapes ‘n Tapes, which requires the utmost creativity and talent. This idea alone is enough to require listening to Walk It Off. It is difficult to listen to sophomore records without biases, but if you have the ability to do so, you’ll certainly be impressed. And, if the album receives the unwarranted backlash that usually comes with the release of an extraordinary debut, Tapes ‘n Tapes will simply walk it off.
- Caleb Morairty
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