The Cassettes - 'Neath the Pale Moon (Cover Artwork)

The Cassettes

The Cassettes: 'Neath the Pale Moon'Neath the Pale Moon (2006)
Buddyhead Records

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:

Contributed by: greg0rbgreg0rb
(others by this writer | submit your own)

I didn't know what to expect from the Cassettes. Leader Shelby Cinca's previous outfit, Frodus, was self-proclaimed "spazzcore." The Cassettes' early material sprouted from Cinca's four-track pop diversions from his main gig and their first full-length received lukewarm reviews for its poorly record.
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I didn't know what to expect from the Cassettes. Leader Shelby Cinca's previous outfit, Frodus, was self-proclaimed "spazzcore." The Cassettes' early material sprouted from Cinca's four-track pop diversions from his main gig and their first full-length received lukewarm reviews for its poorly recorded psychedelic fuzz-rock. A couple years and another release later, Cinca's songwriting took a sharp turn as he picked up new backing members who each bring interesting input into the band's sound, resulting in untraditional arrangements that surprised me throughout the album.

Opener "Lady Faire" is an uptempo blues stomp with dobro starting things off and succumbing to electric guitar when things get more wild. They bring it down for a sweet theremin solo (a difficult instrument to play steady melodies) and then right back up again. On the web I keep running across bits about Cinca claiming influence from two of the more odd and perhaps silly songs penned by Paul McCartney: the White Album's "Honey Pie" and "Rocky Raccoon." One is a cheesy musical number reminiscent of Tin Pan Alley songwriting, and the other a caricature of a cowboy tune. So how does that help you? Well, the Cassettes are a bit out-there and cheesy, and "Honey Pie" can be found with a little imagination in the goofy vaudevillian "Our Whisper Wake No Clocks." They also favor the country side with the campfire folk of "Time Ain't Right," which sounds a bit like the beginning of "Rocky Raccoon." Despite that analytical exercise, it is still hard for me to pin down this group for you all.

For example, "Muja Chi Larki Daydo" is where the band really stretches their sonic scope. Starting with a bluesy dobro riff and jawharp (that twangy thing) to get an Americana feel going, they unexpectedly drop in tablas and then sing over it all in Urdu (national language of Pakistan and one of many in India), also utilizing a small bit of that area's tonal system, specifically the small use of quarter tones (notes between our Western tonal system's notes) in the vocals. I dig this track a lot, because while it is weird when you think of all the ingredients, the end product is quite listenable and pleasant. The seemingly odd combination of Indian percussion and country-influenced guitars, banjo and vocals continues on to "Sweet Virginia," a great relaxed male/female duet.

One of my favorites, "Sway Along" seems a little standard in comparison to others -- acoustic guitars strummed along with a mid-tempo 4/4 drum beat, a nice little upwards scale motive that keeps reappearing in the guitar, but add some theremin (or synth maybe) in there, some nice vocals with some reverb effects, and there ya go, we have a winner. Then there is the swaying lazy rock of "Burgalar in the Bungalow" with a Cajun-style accordion swelling up to make an appearance, but an overall sound not far from what Tapes ??N Tapes is doing. But that's just it -- if this were all really out-there and weird, it would be tiring. They give you a chance to breath with some more "normal" rock.

An eclectic showing that just barely steers clear of getting too bizarre, 'Neath the Pale Moon uses unique instrumentation to ornament country, blues and indie rock styles. I've heard quite a bit of weird music in my years and the Cassettes still managed to surprise me, but with songwriting strong enough to make me want to revisit their record.


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Anonymous (February 28, 2007)

buddyhead releases are by far the most underrated releases out there.

if the guys who run this label werent so abrasive a few years back, everyone would love this label....but then again, if they werent talking shit, no one would probably know of this label...so i guess you have to do a trade study on whats a better payoff

Anchors (February 28, 2007)

Great album, and a criminally underappreciated one at that.

Inspection12e (February 27, 2007)

Excellent CD.

sweetsugarpezz (February 27, 2007)

this is a really solid, fun record. then again i like anything with shelby cinca's name attached to it. he is truly an underapprieciated artist.

give it up for this man, constantly putting out great projects.


Anonymous (February 27, 2007)

The Cassettes are hitting the road!

The Cassettes are heading out on a good old fashion American tour complete with busking on the street! You don't hear about that too often these days now do you? If you haven't picked up their new cd 'Neath The Pale Moon, do so now at your local record store or click here to buy it from Itunes. You might wanna also pick up the reissue (with bonus tracks) of their second record O'er The Mountain from Itunes by clicking HERE. Visit their myspace page @ http://myspace.com/thecassettes or their website @ http://www.thecassettes.com/.
17 Feb 2007 Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar - Charlottesville, Virginia
22 Feb 2007 Brillobox - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
23 Feb 2007 Art Hospital - Bloomington, Illinois
24 Feb 2007 The Brick - Kansas City, Missouri *note: new location!*
25 Feb 2007 Hi Dive - Denver, Colorado
27 Feb 2007 Rock Coffee - Spokane, Washington
28 Feb 2007 Towne Lounge - Portland, Oregon
01 Mar 2007 Funhouse - Seattle, Washington
02 Mar 2007 Diablos - Eugene, Oregon
03 Mar 2007 Blue Lamp - Sacramento, California
04 Mar 2007 ... busking/recording... San Fransisco, California
05 Mar 2007 ... busking/recording... San Fransisco, California
06 Mar 2007 ... busking/recording... San Fransisco, California
07 Mar 2007 Bottom of the Hill - San Fransisco, California
08 Mar 2007 The Echo - Los Angeles, California
09 Mar 2007 El Cid - Los Angeles, California
10 Mar 2007 Hotel Cafe - Los Angeles, California
11 Mar 2007 The Tangier - Los Angeles, California
12 Mar 2007 Modified Arts - Phoenix, Arizona
13 Mar 2007 Club Congress - Tucson, Arizona
14 Mar 2007 The Bean - Las Cruces, New Mexico
15 Mar 2007 SXSW - The Blender Balcony Austin, Texas
16 Mar 2007 SXSW - Austin, Texas
17 Mar 2007 307 - (tentative) Lafayette, Louisiana
18 Mar 2007 ... back porch busk... Lafayette, Louisiana
19 Mar 2007 Opolis - Norman, Oklahoma
20 Mar 2007 Outland Ballroom - Springfield, Missouri
21 Mar 2007 Vaudeville Mews - Des Moines, Iowa
22 Mar 2007 The Casbah - Ottumwa, Iowa
23 Mar 2007 Turf Club - Minneapolis, Minnesota
24 Mar 2007 South Union Arts - Chicago, Illinois
25 Mar 2007 Lager House - Detroit, Michigan
27 Mar 2007 Cafe Nine - New Haven, Connecticut
28 Mar 2007 Middle East Upstairs - Boston, Massachusetts
29 Mar 2007 Cake Shop - NY, New York

sweetsuperior (February 27, 2007)

solid review. thanks.

ConsolationPrizefighter (February 27, 2007)

There was supposed to be a "plus" symbol after jawharp. Now I look even more like a jackass

ConsolationPrizefighter (February 27, 2007)

Jawharp Copious amounts of alcohol = Chipped tooth

kenjamin (February 27, 2007)


I'm going to get this.

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