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Tapes 'n Tapes

Walk It Off (XL)

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Here's something you don't see every day: Band makes album, blogosphere embraces band, band makes a second record that's just as good as its first. Despite its bigger budget this time around, Tapes 'n Tapes infuses Walk It Off with the same bargain-basement sounds that made 2005's The Loon a hipster hit. But Walk It Off has more energy, taking advantage of that age-old concept: Play fast and loud.

Frontman Josh Grier still leans on his angsty voice for support, doing little to dispel those Frank Black comparisons. Still, this is a band that messes with tension. Grier wrestles with determined uncertainty in songs like "Conquest" and "Demon Apple." But Tapes 'n Tapes also tries some stadium rock ("Hang Them All") and dabbles in irony (a George Michael riff fuels "George Michael") on Walk It Off. There's even a Shins-style ballad. All this is contextualized within dark, broody alt-rock, keeping Tapes 'n Tapes from becoming just another faded memory on Hype Machine.

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