If you go
What: Tapes ’n Tapes, in concert.
When: 9 p.m. Aug. 24.
Where: Doug Fir Lounge, 830 E. Burnside, Portland.
Information: Call 503-231-9663 or visit http://dougfirlou...>
Josh Grier, singer and guitarist with Tapes ’n Tapes, has seen his band go from critics’ darling with its 2006 debut album, “The Loon,” to the subject of a backlash with its 2008 follow-up, “Walk It Off.”
And while Grier claims that he doesn’t pay much attention to media response to his music, he can at least point to one personal reason for optimism about how the new Tapes ‘n Tapes recording, “Outside,” will be received.
“Just from a personal perspective, I think I was at peace with this album,” Grier said.
He had eight or nine months to listen to the music, let it marinate, before its release, he said. “It’s not like I’m sitting around listening to it all of the time. But I put it on and I can be like, ‘Is this right? Is this what we were going for? Is there anything I would want to change?’”
The result, he said, is a musical product that perfectly reflects the sound he and the band had aimed to create.
“There’s nothing that pinches my brain and is like, ‘Oh, if we had more time, we could have done that,’” he said.
That has to be rewarding to Grier considering the way he and his bandmates (keyboardist/horn player Matt Kretzmann, bassist Erik Appelwick and drummer Jeremy Hanson) felt after wrapping up the touring cycle behind “Walk It Off.”
The grind of touring, recording and promoting its music had started to wear on Tapes ‘n Tapes. So the group took a break. They then made it a priority to rediscover the fun of being in a band again when they started work on “Outside.”
To re-invigorate the band, members returned to their do-it-yourself roots. Formed in Minneapolis in 2003, the group had self-produced and self-released a seven-song EP in 2004, as well as “The Loon,” before signing with indy label XL Records for “Walk It Off” and making that album with producer David Fridmann (known for his work with Flaming Lips).
Grier said working with Fridmann was amazing, but “Walk It Off” did not get the rapturous response of “The Loon.”
“With ‘Walk It Off,’ we came back with a record that was pretty rocking and kind of pretty bombastic,” Grier said, adding that the political dimension to some of the songs may have also confused fans.
So Tapes ’n Tapes chose to wipe the slate clean. With “Outside,” they decided to once again self-produce. They also parted ways with XL Records and released the new album on their own label, ibid Records.
“Outside” still sounds like Tapes ’n Tapes, but it offers some contrasts to the earlier albums. The jagged, catchy guitar riffs and syncopated beats that have been a signature of the group’s sound remain, but overall the songs on “Outside” feel a bit smoother.
There’s also a shift in the way the band builds melody into its songs, which might result in the new album sounding more approachable, especially compared to the louder and more aggressive “Walk It Off.”
“I think like this time around, melody wasn’t something I was scared of,” Grier said. “The vocal melodies seemed to carry the songs a little bit more”
The band has been on tour for much of the year, and Grier said Tapes ’n Tapes is enjoying having three full CDs of songs to play, which gives the band options for its set list.
“It’s pretty exciting because we can really mix things up every night,” Grier said. “It’s just going to be a nice change of pace for us and for folks watching the show.”