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Midwestern loons worth the hype

Tapes 'n Tapes - The Loon
(Ibid Records)
4 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Mar. 28, 2006
Tapes 'n Tapes

Review by Tony Bonyata

The buzz surrounding the Minneapolis-based band Tapes 'n Tapes began bubbling under the radar late last year with the release of the quartet's debut full-length album The Loon. With an impressive showing at college radio (where the band debuted at #55 on CMJ's Top 200 chart in October) the word on the street continued to spread like wildfire and with all eyes focused on this young Midwestern band during their recent high-profile showcase at Austin's SXSW music festival it appears that their day in the sun may have finally arrived.
And why not? Hell, if the talented, yet extremely over-hyped, indie-rock band Arctic Monkeys can cause a fevered rush to checkout counters worldwide, then a band with an album as solid as The Loon certainly deserve to cause an equally rabid reaction among lovers of modern rock.
The Loon is an organic, challenging collection of eleven spastic, quirky songs that are as inventive as they are addictive. Combining the angular, guitar-driven new wave of early Talking Heads with the thespian tendencies of modern rock band The Arcade Fire, Tapes 'n Tapes deliver one delicious song after another on this engaging effort. From the jerky NYC post-punk of the opening track "Just Drums" to the deranged Caribbean breeze that floats through the odd, punchy pop of "The Illiad" to the near-epic wall of morphing prog-rock on the closing "Jakov's Suit," this album is sure to delight those who delight in the unexpected.
While there isn't a clunker here to be found, a few of the standouts include the skittish first single "Insister," which features the nervous, twitching vocals of David Byrne, the dreamy, billowy pop of "Omaha" and "In Houston," as well as the punky dance number "Cowbell."
The crown jewel of this collection, however, is "10 Gallon Ascots" which opens up as a light-hearted slice of melancholic pop before it erupts into a wonderful, pounding cacophony of feedback, farfisa and angst-ridden yelps during the song's choruses (which, with only two featured throughout the five minute composition, demands repeat spins).
Tapes 'n Tapes' The Loon is some of the weirdest, most interesting and fun new music to emerge in quite some time. So whatever buzz you may hear on these four Midwestern boys, you can believe it... this time.

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