Jeff Moody
Stripwax

Two guys named Tapes and Englebert Humperdinck

By - Jan 16th, 2011 04:00 am
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Did you know that there are two guys in this band from Minneapolis named Tapes 1 and Tapes 2? Actually,  there are four guys altogether, so that means there are two other guys in the band, and their names are ‘n. Not ‘n 1 and ‘n 2, but both of ‘em are named ‘n. Guess what else? Tapes 1 is (of course) the singer and guitarist. Tapes 2 plays drums. One of the ‘n fellas is the bassist, and the other ‘n, he plays keyboards and is billed as a “multi-instrumentalist.”

The names are goofy, but not as goofy as Englebert Humperdinck. That’s one goofy name, but hey… if you squeezed out a kid in a full tuxedo (and sideburns!) who was belting out “Please Release Me” (while giving the nurses the eye) you’d name that kid Englebert too, especially if yer last name was already Humperdinck.

Now what I wanna know (right now!) is how these Tapes ‘n Tapes fellas went about picking and applying these names. There had to be a boss — y’know, like Lawrence Tierney’s character in Reservoir Dogs, where he gave the all the bank robbers names like Mr. Black, Mr. Green and so on, so they couldn’t rat each other out if one of ‘em got pinched by the cops. Steve Buscemi’s character didn’t want to be Mr. Pink, and what self-respecting alpha-male criminal type would?

Likewise, what self-respecting ROCK musician would want to be relegated to a mere consonant wearing an apostrophe for a hat? Bass players get treated like stage props as it is, so I could imagine his resigned acceptance of that lowly, anonymous ‘n, but the “multi-instrumentalist” named ‘n? He is far too important for that, because he’s the guy who gives Tapes ‘n Tapes their razzle and dazzle.

Where are those delightfully subtle hints of melodica coming from? That other ‘n guy. Howzabout those Mariachi-ish horns that rise up totally without any warning whatsoever? It’s that other ‘n guy. That rolling organ? Yep. Same guy. See a pattern here?

His name is Matt Kretzmann. His name is Matt Kretzmann. His name is Matt Kretzmann.

The Tapes and the other ‘n, they design and construct pleasing song structures with impressively puzzling angles that keep you guessing, and Kretzmann, he decorates the joint. Tapes 1, (The Singer Who Will Not Be Named Here Because He Is Tapes 1) he also decorates, and with flair. Not Englebert-type flair, but with a high-spirited confidence, the kind you’d need to have in order to bend and weave as many fragments of genre and sound together as these guys are.

Outside is vibrating with music that is playful and mischievously melodious. One day I listened and washed dishes and took notes, another day I drove my truck and listened. Both times, I thought “Huh. Not bad.” Then a few days ago, I was buying lettuce, trying to decide between Romaine and Iceberg, and fragments of the songs from Outside came back in my mind like bits of pleasant conversations with friends, and they keep coming back, even as I’ve moved on to the next week’s round of new releases. That doesn’t happen too often. I think I like it more now then when I wrote the strip.

Categories: Stripwax

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