Written by: Jimmy Hitt, CC2K Staff Writer
In our Instant Expert column, CC2K Music Editor Jimmy Hitt gives you a crash course on a unique, up-and-coming or otherwise extraordinary artist.
This week's rocker to get the Instant Expert treatment is everyone's favorite band from Minnesota's Carelton College, Tapes 'n Tapes.
Read on, and wow all your friends at cocktail parties, laugh-ins, sleepovers and campouts with your comprehensive knowledge of a lesser-known artist!
Who: Tapes ‘n Tapes feature, primarily, Josh Grier as songwriter, Jeremy Hanson on drums, Matt Kretzman on keyboards and other instruments, and Erik Appelwick on bass.
What: a lot of influences get thrown at this band, from The Pixies and Talking Heads to Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan, but the most apt description of their music would involve none of the former. Tapes ‘n Tapes’ rhythm section is stronger and more eclectic than all but Talking Heads, and finds an equal, maybe, with The Flaming Lips. The vocals and songwriting actually remind one of The Clash’s Joe Strummer, if he were from Minneapolis and not his own complex background of British Foreign Service. Moreover, Tapes ‘n Tapes feature a lot of distortion-heavy hooks and disparate bridges that recall little more than the barest history of rock music. Their ability to jump seamlessly from part to part while maintaining cohesiveness is probably their most accomplished skill, if not their most compelling.
Where: first meeting at Carleton College in Minnesota, the band principally embodies Midwest, Great Lakes attitudes about recording in cabins and being really, really good at music.
When: 2003 marks Tapes ‘n Tapes’ formation. Their first EP came out in ’04 and The Loon, their breakthrough, followed a year later. Walk It Off comes out on April 8th, 2008.
Why: Short of simple entertainment, Tapes ‘n Tapes’ actual mantra can be hard to pin down. Their lyrics are relatively cryptic indie rock fare, with many songs recalling simple emotions and relationship type stuff. “Say Back Something” on Walk It Off contains the most straightforward lyrics thus far on either LP, with Grier crooning, “the silence in our bed/and arms and legs of lead/and I’m so scared/say back something/why can’t you look me in the eyes?” The relationship premise seems hard to miss here.
How: This band could not be easier to peg down in terms of instruments. Guitar, drums, bass, vocals, keyboards…
Recommendation: Either The Loon or Walk It Off present perfect starting points. They are similar albums and both are equally infectious. If full albums aren’t your thing, try searching http://elbo.ws for some of their tracks. I recommend “10 Gallon Ascots,” “In Houston,” and “Hang Them All.”