Walk It Off, the sophomore release of Tapes 'N Tapes, may conjure thoughts of bands past and present. But these qualities make up a compelling whole and show how the Minneapolis band has utilized its influences to move the music ahead, pulling you into what is ultimately a unique maelstrom of sounds.
Guitarist Josh Grier has a tense, somewhat agitated voice that recalls the Arcade Fire's Win Butler or, to take it back a generation, Echo & the Bunnymen's Ian McCulloch. A song like "Demon Apple" has a moment where all four members play a staccato riff in parallel motion, in the same manner as umpteen '90s indie-rock bands, going for that "Bolero" type of intensity. With Matt Kretzmann's various keyboards, including electric piano, stirring up the mix, Tapes 'N Tapes sounds melodic and at times pretty, even as Grier bangs trebly and brittle noises out of his guitar.
Debuting in 2006 with the well-received The Loon, this time the band went into the studio with Dave Fridmann, who has recorded Sleater-Kinney and the Flaming Lips. His production gives Walk It Off a big sound that often sounds overdriven and ready to test the limits of the speakers; it straddles a lo-fi distinction while keeping everything in high relief. The band chose the title in reference to a thematic thread in all of the songs: the need to keep walking as a way to persevere of challenging times.
Tapes 'N Tapes with Br'er Fox. 10:30 p.m. Fri., Aug. 8. Club Café, 56-58 S. 12th St., South Side. $13. 412-431-3950 or www.clubcafelive.com.