Thursday, April 24

Walk it Off, Tapes n Tapes, Mr. Dogg Still Loves You

Artist: Tapes n Tapes

Album: Walk it Off

Comments: With record stores slowly going the way of the buffalo and mainstream radio’s development into a grotesque self parody, folks looking to listen to new tunes have turned to the Internet as resource for new music. Blogs have become the new “Staff Picks” section of the Web, slinging suggestions and buzz about with an almost irresponsible recklessness.

Still, only time will tell if the Internet is a viable way to produce new acts with substance. The hints are appearing now, with first-generation blog bands like Clay Your Hands Say Yeah and Bloc Party putting out lackluster second albums that suggest big buzz doesn’t equate to big staying power.

Add to that short, sad list the boys of Tapes n Tapes, whose second album, Walk it Off, is a strong effort with good hooks but no longevity.

It really is a shame that this album wasn’t better. After the success of their first record The Loon, which was powered by Pixies style fractured song-writing, Pavement-esque guitar riffs and Modest Mouse-y bouts of rage, it was hard not to hope that the Minneapolis foursome could bring back some clout to guitar music.

Not to say that Walk it Off is a flaccid effort. The album kicks off with the frantic and fun “Le Ruse,” a tune that so deep with fuzz and distortion that it’s hard to figure where the guitar ends and the vocals begin. “Hang Them All,” the album’s first single, is a dark dance track with a hooky chorus that will be a welcome addition to the songs stuck in your head. “The Dirty Dirty,” the album’s closing track, is as aptly named a rock song as I’ve ever heard.

Even the softer fair fairs well on Walk it Off. Songs like “Say Back Something” and “Conquest” showcase that the band can sound good at volumes other than 11. “Conquest” especially is a gem, showcasing lead singer Josh Grier’s ability to say a lot with words that don’t necessarily make sense together in a conventional way. Also good is late track “Lines,” which slowly builds from quiet to explosive with fantastic results, even if it’s a tad formulaic.

Still, all these lovely tracks aside, the album doesn’t stick to the ribs as much as one might hope. When it’s on, it’s a very enjoyable experience, but once it’s off, there is no pressing need to put it back on again any time soon. Not to suggest that the album is forgettable, but its not urgent the way great music can be. Given this band’s initial buzz and obvious talent, one would hope for something more.

The production change on this record is a bit concerning as well. The Loon was a clean, but obviously home grown effort, and its everyman appeal was a big part of the charm. On Walk it Off, there is a distracting wall of fuzz through the album that keeps the listener and arms length when it should be inviting them in to enjoy the guitar play and oddball lyrics.

Walk it Off is a good release, but not one that will win over any new fans. People looking to explore this band would be better served checking out The Loon. And as for being the champion that would give the blogs credibility over musical sway, looks like we’ll have to hope the Silversun Pickups can strike lightning twice.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Key Tracks:
Hang Them All, Conquest, Say Back Something, The Dirty Dirty

Buy, Steal, or Skip:
I bought it, and I don't regret it.

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