The front cover of The Blank Tapes' second self-released album Landfair shows a river winding through a cartoonish snowy mountain landscape with a smudged sun shining down from the sky. The image, portrayed in mostly browns and yellows, illustrates the beginning of spring when the snows melt, feeding the rivers. Soon the flowers will blossom and newly planted crops will sprout, starting a period of growth and renewal that blossoms through the summer.
Landfair's earthy twenty-three tracks seem to reference the moment pictured in the cover art when winter turns to spring as filtered through a style suggesting artists as diverse as Sean Hayes, The Magnetic Fields and Pavement's Stephen Malkmus. Simple sweet melodies break out of stark rhythms on tracks like "Play A Song & Singalong." The acoustic-textured instrumentation includes trumpet, violin and a number of guest players who sing (and whistle) throughout. There is a melancholy playfulness on songs like "Oil & Water" while "Turn The Lights Down" introduces a refreshing taste of proto-punk electric guitar wash into the formula.
Although there are diverse styles and tones represented on Landfair, it was written and performed by one person (with the help of some friends) -- Matt Adams, the sole 'member' of The Blank Tapes. In fact, Adams, who creates special poster designs for each Blank Tapes performance also created the cover art and album design. Originally a Southern California project, The Blank Tapes relocated to San Francisco after the completion of Landfair, which was captured on 8-track throughout 2004 and 2005.
Adams' own easy charm is the overwhelming and underlying theme of The Blank Tapes. The SF Weekly's Dan Strachota called Landfair "lovely, casual, comforting folk music full of sunshiny melodies and warm vocals, with a smattering of wistful, humorous lyrics." In the modest biography on the band's site, the muted color poster and album artwork, and in the relaxed yet sophisticated music itself, The Blank Tapes are a consistently quality one-man show and just the kind of emerging self-reliant independent artist (in all senses of the word) that deserves to be discovered and celebrated.