Originally Published In The Daily Free Press on 2/21/11
For their third album, Outside, the Minnesotan indie-rock quartet Tapes ‘n Tapes channel a ‘who’s who’ list of indie artists. Lead vocalist Josh Grier’s voice sounds unpolished, yet remarkably passionate, almost channeling Hamilton Leithauser of The Walkmen, while the band behind him seems to have a penchant for crescendoing at the three-quarter mark.
The opening track, “Badaboom,” is a fun number, starting off with a poppy and light drum beat with some guitar thrown in for good measure before bright keyboard kicks in and Grier distorts his voice. The song then ends with a few interesting stop-and-start guitar and drum moments that appear throughout the album.
“SWN” has a dreamlike quality to it that transforms suddenly into a Modest Mouse-esque number as Grier shout-talks “and when you walk in, walk in walk in, walk in, I’ll be on my knees” in Modest Mouse’s Isaac Brock fashion. “Freak Out” starts off like a b-side off MGMT’s Congratulations before finding its place as a frenzied shuffle. “The Saddest of All Keys,” perhaps the album’s strongest track, has a Cold War Kids vibe to it, however, the very neat ambient organ that drives the song to its final, chaotic, destination is what really makes the song stand out. Yet, not every ditty off Outside harkens back to fellow indie-rockers; in fact, “People You Know” finds it’s place as an early 60’s slow-dance number that almost seems to channel The Penguins’ classic “Earth Angel.”
On Outside, Tapes ’n Tapes doesn’t bring anything new to the indie-rock table. The album gets a bit repetitive at times, yet there are quite a few interesting tracks that make it worthwhile. While the album isn’t poor, the bands such as Cold War Kids, The Walkmen, Modest Mouse, MGMT and others that Tape ‘n Tapes clearly draw influence from have already fleshed out their indie-rock sound and do it better.