Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Twin Cities indie-rockers Tapes N' Tapes played a secret unannounced show at the Turf Club in St. Paul last night to preview songs from Walk It Off, their first disc since the Internet-driven buzz around 2005's The Loon catapulted them from well-respected locals to a full-fledged buzz band. Their second full-length record, Walk will be released in April and was produced by Dave Fridmann, who's worked with Flaming Lips, Weezer, and Low, among others. Here's a few photos from the show and a brief report:

About half of the new songs were first played live in October at a TnT show at Triple Rock Social Club across town, but the rest were debuted last night. (They were all new to me anyway, since I missed the Triple Rock show.) Because of that I don't want to make any definitive judgments on their quality; this kind of show is good for a taste, but shouldn't be considered the full course. (Besides, I usually don't like to review new music until I've heard it at least three times, and also at least a quarter of my attention last night was focused on the tangential point of the pinched nerve in my back that makes me feel like my leg is on fire, and whether I should get a cane to walk around with until I get better, and if so whether it would be more important for that cane to come with a sword hidden inside it or a hollow space where I can keep whiskey.) At any rate, the new Tapes songs are pretty clearly moving somewhat away from the quirky jangliness of The Loon toward a more intense, harder-rocking sound. I'm not sure if that's a good thing; I didn't hear anything that grabbed me with the immediacy of "Insistor" or "Cowbell" from The Loon. But there were still a lot of interesting angles in what I heard, and I'm guessing that hearing the disc itself will bring that out even further; Tapes have always been a better-in-the-studio band for me. The live version of "Hang Them All" made good use of Josh Grier's nervous-energy, slightly off-kilter vocal delivery, which reminds me of David Byrne circa More Songs About Buildings And Food, but I think it came off to better effect in the studio version (which you can hear an mp3 of at the blog Gorilla vs. Bear). I'd give the live show a "B," but I'm looking forward to hearing the full CD more than ever now, which I guess is really the point.

Some more photos from the show:


Singer, guitarist and songwriter Josh Grier:

Drummer Matt Kretzman and bassist Erik Appelwick:


The opening acts were two of my favorite Minneapolis bands, Vampire Hands and The Blind Shake.

Vampire Hands have a heavy psychedelic vibe, a little like Syd Barrett backed by the Stooges, with dual vocalists trading off between a spacey falsetto and a punky rasp, and a pair of drummers that both attack with relentless energy. They've got a new disc out next month called Me & You Cherry Red.


The Blind Shake are a punk power trio fronted by two brothers, Jim and Mike Blaha. They made a terrific collaborative record with criminally unknown underground guitarist Michael Yonkers last year called Carbohydrates Hydrocarbons. On their own, they create a furious, squalling wall of noise.


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