Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound Engineering by Patrick Stolley
More or less, everything's a battlefield - the place you stand in, the place where you stood - and the trend for more of that is skyrocketing it appears. Everyone's pissy, overworked and stressed, sending out nasty vibrations and stagnant karma that's going to come back and nip many in the bud.
None of us can really speak with any confidence or assurance about the ways things have always been, but there must have been a span after the Wild Western and tommy-gunning prohibition times when the masses could just live it off, go about buying their houses, their bottles of milk, having their families, smoking their cigarettes at their workplace, buying gasoline for peanuts on the dollar and attending joyous ice cream socials at the local non-denominational church and everyone simply basked in some variety of calmness. The battlefields hid behind the walls, or so we're willing to believe. Suddenly though, in this country at least, race and gender are hot button issues again, smoking anywhere but on mountaintops with the goats and bald eagles is strictly forbidden, there's a still raging, nonsensical war in Iraq and people have become enslaved by digital technology to the point where text messaging and computer conversations have made many socially awkward and hence made the "real" world a frightening place. It's a battle to stay positive, to sift out the optimism from the crud that overwhelms it most of the time.
People are harder to deal with and being wrapped up in a casing of self and non-food, but everything else gluttony turns conversation, operating and resting into a considerable challenge. The feelings that brew up from the cracks - when it all gets pressurized - is the angle that Josh Grier, the lead singer and songwriter for Minneapolis band Tapes 'n Tapes draws from on the young group's sophomore release Walk It Off, a pounding and dominant-voiced album that isn't the easy dancer like The Loon from 2006 was. Grier chooses to illustrate his points with imagery that takes us back to a place we've never been - when Genghis Khan was running the Mongol Empire and even more so when General William Tecumsuh Sherman ordered the evacuation and burning of the city of Atlanta during the American Civil War. Sherman said in a letter to the people of Atlanta, "You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out. I know I had no hand in making this war, and I know I will make more sacrifices today than any of you to secure peace." The battle has been waged for rightness all over Walk It Off - alternate titles could be "Suck It Up" or "Rub Some Dirt On It" - with Grier walking alone "through miles and miles of bones" and imploring people to "hide your women" as if the pillagers were storming into the city with wooden brooms lit afire, using as lanterns in the dead of the night and sneering with leery expressions. Whether the album is a direct reaction to the world that he sees or an exaggerated presentation of the life the band's led in its two blowing up years, Walk It Off is a record that doesn't offer impunity to any of the ills as they see it. "Hang Them All" is a stellar, crunching ode to this exact thought that the guilty must be tried, found guilty and dealt with in an appropriate manner. The streets of nearly all of the songs on the record run red with blood, hammering down on the thumbs that hang off ledges for dear life. It's an album that's smoking out the impure hearts and Tapes 'n Tapes are standing at the pulpit, with the fiery flames popping all around them, but not blackening them up, singeing their leg hairs or melting their soles/souls.
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