Tapes ‘n Tapes
inneapolis lays claim to its own. We are an insular town. F. Scott downed little lifesource here, nor did Dylan worry his unkind wrinkles here for long. Yet we hold tours for both.
Perhaps it’s our sturdy winters, the way they double-pane us inside our frostglass homes. We take pride in our own isolation, our fortitude through these Nordic passages. We’re like that state directly south-poled to our north-pole, Texas; we think we’re somehow outside of the union for what we have to endure. It’s a point of community, a stoic strength we flaunt. My standard joke is that we couldn’t have acknowledged 9/11 if no Minneapolitans had perished.
Maybe this explains my odd history with Minneapolis music fads past. I awoke missing fingernails and hanging by my ankles atop the C.C. Club after denigrating The Soviettes as our city’s rote-by-numbers pop-punk. Sturgeon swaddled me in a diaper and slipped a “Those Who Can’t Do Critique” tee over my head. That was the last time I sought solace in shared piercings.
Then there was the time Slug challenged me to swim with him amongst the jellyfish in the forty-five foot wide Tiburon aquarium. We were drunk on the fluoro-bistro’s small-batch sangria, more out of tune with sense now than I knew at the time. Of course, those cellophane fish stung us both, a cold heat of surge and saltwater coughing I barely remember. But his trick came with the cure: he peed on my thigh. He said I should have kept up with Friends, curled his street-urchin grin, and left. But, Jesus, dude peed on my thigh.
So I come, far too late admittedly, to burgeoning Minneapolis fave Tapes ‘n Tapes and their over-hyped album, The Loon. They embody all of the town’s musical failings, the desperation for relevance in a bi-coastal market increasingly losing sight of the in-betweens. Touch all of the bases in passing, just a corner but not the whole square. Thanks to the blogs and the word of mouth over their last LP, Tapes ‘n Tapes is posited as the next CYHSY. But unlike that band or last year’s Wolf Parade, both of whose records I adored, Tapes ‘n Tapes lack the discipline for singularity. They want to be every band to every bloke, shuffling between genres in an effort to jack all and master nada.
“Just Drums,” for example, is a hookless gust of Pavement-inspired indie, while follow-up “The Illiad” strums soft-heat for an island of palm sans pilot—the band’s tropical composition seemingly disconnected from the record’s remainder. Meanwhile, “Insistor” mines slumber-party rockabilly, and “Crazy Eights” struts out barheel blues-squawk, shaking the stools with Crazy Horse-inspired garage chords and overwrought heaps of static and reverb. It’s not that Tapes ‘n Tapes lacks engaging material; in fact many of their extended song sequences and bridges pump more oxygen into the corpse of indie than most such bands might ever attempt. But their genre-mashing makes for a grating twist-up of an album.
As such, perhaps Tapes ‘n Tapes should reconsider their genre. As a techno collective, in the vein of the fabulously hyperactive Various Productions, they might break the world. Come up with a few suitable b-sides, plug them onto these eleven singles and they’ve got three years’ worth of compelling seven inches. Otherwise, I hope the band doesn’t read this, as I hear they share a MySpace fixation with Slug. I guess I’ll be the Minneapolitan hiding out in false-stache and unseasonable Sorels for a while. Dude peed on my thigh after all.