Tapes 'n Tapes
Tapes 'n Tapes

Videos by American Songwriter

Some have labeled Tapes ‘n Tapes reverb-soaked songs “über indie.” The Loon, the Minneapolis-based group’s first record, ascended to buzzworthy status in 2007, which all-too-often leads to a sophomore-effort’s premature fall from grace. Fortunately, the second LP, Walk It Off, shoves back, lowers its shoulder and moves forward..

The first single “Hang Them All” knots succinct, muddy guitars with an undeniably catchy chorus, while “Time of Songs” and “Say Back Something” sway with muddled synths and strums. But lead guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Josh Grier doesn’t pay much attention to what folks think of Tapes ‘n Tapes’ music. He calls in from Paris on the last leg of their European tour, and his refreshing honesty comes through without static.

“For me, with music, I like to be left to interpret things for myself. I’m the same with our music. However people hear it, and think about it, then it’s their own thing. I want it to be open to interpretation. I know that sounds trite. Music, at least for me, is a very personal experience. Maybe the way I hear it is totally different than the way someone else hears it, and that’s the way it should be.”

Grier wrote most of the tunes on Walk It Off in an extra bedroom, on his battered acoustic, which might surprise some. “Oh jeez, it’s a really, really cheap acoustic. When I was 16, I bought my Fender Lonestar Strat, they [the guitar shop] were having a drawing for a $100 acoustic guitar, and I entered and I won it. I got both of my guitars at the same time. It’s a junkie acoustic, but I’ve always had it, and at this point I’ve played it enough so that I like the way it sounds. There are a couple frets that just clank out and don’t work at all, but it serves its purpose. I like it.”

Once they had about 15 songs in the queue, they headed to Tarbox studios to work with acclaimed producer Dave Fridmann (The Flaming Lips, MGMT). It was truly their first chance to record in a studio.

“We knew what the parts were gonna be, and the guitar parts and we practiced them a lot. We’d tweak while in the studio, but mostly the guts were there. Dave’s really the ultimate enabler.”

Like the artists he’s worked with in the past, Fridmann’s touches on Walk It Off remain sparing, opting always to augment the band’s M.O.  If Walk It Off is your first encounter with Tapes ‘n Tapes, brace for a well-rehearsed, assured second installment, complete with muddy blues influences and sing-along choruses.

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