Tapes 'N Tapes
I have been shying away from the current spate of indie hype machines, fearing their press hyperbole to be even more nauseating than that which comes out of me. I mean, I am always on the hunt for something new to tickle my ear drum, but with increasing age, it all sounds so bland. The trepidations sensitivity which the indie kids of my day used to affect has given into aggressive fey-ness. Everyone drops an oblique couplet now, borne aloft by a post Warholian patchwork of plug-and-play influences: a little disco here, a little early Pavement there, smidgeon of Pixies and there you have it. And while that very recipe appears to have been used to concoct the current darlings Tapes 'N Tapes, the results are better that the average Betty Crocker Indie Rocker Mix confection.
The Loon has been click on every forked tongue located under an asymmetric haircut ever since they were the must-see of the must-sees of SXSW and I see why. Its largely mid-tempo sing-song lullabies like "Manitoba" are sweet as pie. Their rockers, the fuzz crunchy "Crazy Eights" being the prime example, actually do rock. In fact, it's almost instrumental in that the vocals are chopped and submerged in the reverb garage swoon. Excellent little number. Their artier numbers "In Houston" and '10 Gallon Ascots" have that rackety-sway like Pavement did a decade ago, and that The Double, my favorite of the plague of Brooklynites shaping our tastes, did last year.
My favorite here is "Insistor" that, at its base, has a rockabilly base to it and an orgasmic vocal delivery like Black Francis had back then. It lies sandwiched between the acoustic and (I think) whip-o-will laced "The Illiad" and the aforementioned "Crazy Eights" meaning that this is a buzz band that actually exhibits some variety on their record. Take the oddball shuffle of "Cowbell", where the strongest Pixies influence is revealed. It manages to skitter between indie dance stomper and inquisitive little rocker throughout the song. In artier times, this may not be considered a victory, but nowadays I like anything that at least sounds inspired rather than commissioned. If you only choose one awkwardly named hipster talisman this season, Tapes 'N Tapes might just be your best bet.
Alex V. Cook listens to everything and writes about most of it. His latest book, the snappily titled Louisiana Saturday Night: Looking for a Good Time in South Louisiana's Juke Joints, Honky-Tonks, and Dance Halls is an odyssey from the backwoods bars and small-town dives to the swampside dance halls and converted clapboard barns of a Louisiana Saturday Night. Don't leave Heathrow without it. His first book Darkness Racket and Twang is available from SideCartel. The full effect can be had at alex v cook.com
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