buzz band Tapes 'n Tapes has more in common with Clap Your Hands Say
Yeah than a mutual fondness for the angular sounds of the early
Talking Heads, or the fact that both groups have been lauded by that
influential indie-rock arbiter of all that is hip,
Pitchforkmedia.com. Like the New York-based art-rockers, Tapes 'n
Tapes built a sizable and growing national audience seemingly
overnight, based largely on the power of distributing its music for
free on the Internet.
"Actually, most of
the credit for that goes to our manager Keri [Wiese],"
guitarist-vocalist Josh Grier says. "Before we put our EP out, we
were like, 'OK, we're going to release this to college radio and do
a promotional push,' but we never had a publicist or anything. So
Keri said, 'Hey, I'll do your publicity. I have a plan; this is what
I'll do,' and we were like, 'Hey, sure, that sounds great!' We're
all pretty into music and hanging out on the blogs, so we had a good
idea of which people might like it. Keri sent it out to about 10
people when we released it in town, and within three days, it was
out of our control and taking off from there."
the band shortly after graduating from college and moving to
Minneapolis in 2003. The name came from the realization that he
could use his computer and a four-track recorder to produce "tapes
'n' tapes of stupid-a-- ----," and the group released its first
self-titled EP a few months after forming. It recorded its debut
album "The Loon" as a trio last June, before the lineup solidified
with Grier, drummer Jeremy Hanson, keyboardist Matt Kretzmann and
bassist Erik Appelwick.
The 11 songs
display an array of influences in addition to the stripped-down
rhythmic intensity of the New Wave era. Grier's
stream-of-consciousness vocals have also drawn comparisons to the
Pixies, while the occasional explosions of guitar noise have some
critics invoking My Bloody Valentine and Dinosaur, Jr. "At least for
me, it's nice because you can't peg it as, 'Oh, they're ripping off
one band,'" Grier says. "When we're playing and writing, there are
moments when it's conscious: 'Oh man, this sounds a lot like this
band!' But whenever it's like that, we go, 'Let's change it, because
as much as possible, we don't want to have it sound like anything
Thanks to weird
but melodic tracks such as "The Iliad," "Crazy Eights" and "Jakov's
Suite," it didn't take long for Tapes 'n Tapes to win a dedicated
following in its hometown. But from the start, the group set its
sights beyond the borders of the sometimes provincial Twin Cities
"Even from the
get-go, when we recorded our EP on our own in a cabin in the woods,
we were like, 'Well, if we recorded it and we're going to release,
it we might as well go on tour. So we went for a monthlong tour out
West when we really had no business going. But it was fun, and the
mentality has always been, 'If you're going to be in a band and
really do it, you have to A.) Do it your own way, and B.) Not wait
around for anything.' We did two or three tours before we even
released 'The Loon,' and since then, we've pretty much been on the
road all the time."
trips, the musicians spent much of their time filling orders from
the Web for its D.I.Y. recordings. "Every other day, it was a run to
the post office with 80 packages," Grier says, laughing. "That's the
one thing we're the most happy about not having to do anymore!"
Tapes 'n Tapes recently signed with XL Recordings, which will
reissue "The Loon" on July 25. "It's one of those things where when
you hear about bands getting signed, you think it happens overnight,
but it takes forever. It's like, 'Oh, the lawyers have to talk for
two months.' Meanwhile, you're like, 'Can we tell anybody about
this?' And we were staying up until 1 a.m. every night trying to
fill all those orders. It will be nice to actually have a life again
for a little bit!"
won't last long: The same week that XL reissues "The Loon," Tapes 'n
Tapes returns to Chicago to perform as one of the headliners on July
30, the second day of the Pitchfork Music Festival in Union Park.
And it leaves for its first tour of the U.K. shortly thereafter.
excited and a little bit nervous about going overseas for the first
time," Grier says. "And the Pitchfork festival -- we all flew out
for it last year, and it was ridiculous; I was like, 'Oh, my God, we
have to go see Les Savy Fav!' We were there for both days, so for
this year, for us to play it, it's like, 'Holy crap!' We could never
have imagined that last year when we were standing in the crowd."
Following in the
footsteps of local ork-popsters/ornate folk-rockers the Scotland
Yard Gospel Choir and Head of Femur, the 1900s are a big band
(featuring guitarist-vocalist Edward Anderson, keyboardist Mike
Jasinski, drummer Tim Minnick, bassist Charlie Ransford and female
vocalists Caroline Donovan and Jeanine O'Toole) that has crafted a
surprisingly fragile and breathtakingly beautiful sound on its
six-song debut "Plume Delivery." It was released last week on
Champaign-Urbana's pop-worshipping Parasol Records.
the Law" veers a bit too close to the ultra-twee sounds of early
Belle & Sebastian, other songs such as "Bring the Good Boys Home"
and "Flight of the Monowings" present a fresh, hook- and
harmony-laden take on '60s influences, such as the Zombies, the
Incredible String Band, Donovan and the Velvet Underground circa its
quiet third album. The sultry vocals that power the epic "Patron
Saint of the Mediocre" are to die for. Thanks to its tireless
gigging around town in recent months, the band has also earned a
growing reputation for the strength of its live shows, which find
the musicians jumping from instrument to instrument between every
celebrate the release of the "Plume Delivery" EP Saturday night at
Schubas, 3159 N. Southport. The show starts at 10 p.m. with Devin
Davis and Gentlemen Caller, and the cover is $8; for more
information, call (773) 525-2508 or visit www.the-1900s.com.