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The Loon

Tapes 'n Tapes

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Album Review

At first, Tapes 'n Tapes' much buzzed-about debut album, The Loon, plays like a CliffsNotes of indie rock, serving up the shouty, snotty sound of early Modest Mouse ("Just Drums"), Pavement's laid-back angles and historically astute lyrics ("The Iliad"), and the surreal strumminess of Come on Pilgrim-era Pixies ("Cowbell"). But just because Tapes 'n Tapes broadcast their influences so clearly throughout The Loon doesn't make it a bad album. Actually, the built-in familiarity of their sound is kind of comforting, particularly on pleasantly meandering pop songs like "Buckle" and "Jakov's Suite," and "Manitoba," a woozy ballad that recalls the Walkmen at their prettiest (and tipsiest). And, as The Loon unfolds, it shows Tapes 'n Tapes developing a style of their own — or, at least, a more distinctive take on the indie bedrock on which their sound is built. The aptly named "Insistor" gallops out of the gate with more confidence and excitement than many of the album's other tracks. The abrupt tempo and dynamic shifts on this song and "In Houston," which pairs sparkly keyboards and almost jazzy verses with crunchy, sharp-edged choruses, show a flair for movement and drama that could become Tapes 'n Tapes' signature. "Omaha" is another standout, with subtly sophisticated drumming and lush, bittersweet vocal harmonies. However, The Loon is crafted like a true album; even if all the songs don't quite reach the level of its highlights, it all hangs together well, with appealing tossed-off tracks like "Crazy Eights" and the just-rough-enough-around-the-edges production adding to its personality. On the first few spins, it might be hard to understand what all the hype around The Loon is about, but it may be down to the fact that it's just a really solidly made album.

Customer Reviews

A really great new band

Tapes n Tapes' debut album comes so heavily laden with hype that it is easy to form an opinion prior to actually hearing it. The indie quartet from Minneapolis were the beneficiaries of a major label bidding war, which does increase the expectations somewhat. Remarkably, this is a band that does give it back - when it works, the Loon is fantastic. Songs like Cowbell, Omaha, or Insistor are as good a piece of indie music as you'll hear all year - think Pavement or the Pixies, but with a Strokes-like knowingness and a Beach Boys song sense. Unfortunately, this is a massively variable disc - on the few songs when the experimentation doesn't work, you're better off just fast-forwarding. They are allowed a few wrong turns, however, as, like Belgian band dEUS, the reward for listening to a band that is happy to take chances is huge. Whereas Clap Your Hands Say Yeah are just plain annoying in return for their quirkiness, Tapes n Tapes are a really great new band. Marking them down a star is simply for the songs that don't work... Have a listen - you might only need 8 songs.

The Hype Is ...

This band have been well hyped in such magazines as NME and i took a plunge like the other reviewer and bought the album. I am very glad i did because they definately stand out from the other indie bands with their odd and weird riffs. On my first listen i thought the album was ok, but when you repeat it, it just gets better and you end up dancing and chanting the words to your own. A solid debut album, the stand out tracks for me are insistor and the iliad

two stars? the swine

An excellent collection of REAL indie, not like Razorlight or the kooks, irritating, skinny jean wearing morons who manage to be totally unoriginal and yet worse than any other band ever, even each other. Jakov's Suite, Insistor and Just Drums are great and 10 Gallon Ascots is a grower, starting out quiet and jazzy, before mutating into an anthemic glam stomp. top bombing.

Biography

Formed: 2003 in Minneapolis, MN

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Minneapolis, MN, indie rock classicists Tapes 'n Tapes formed in the winter of 2003, when guitarist/vocalist Josh Grier (aka "Tapes 1"), bassist Matt Kretzmann ("'n") and guitarist Steve Nelson ("Tapes 2") began crafting a sound that harked back to the Pixies and Pavement and also recalled more contemporary bands like the Shins. Nelson left the band, with drummer Karl Schweitz becoming the band's second "Tapes"; this lineup recorded the Tapes 'n Tapes EP in early 2004, recording in a cabin in Wisconsin....
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