The Cassettes – Rewind That for Me Please

The Cassettes

By Emily

I thought cassettes were obsolete… so imagine my surprise when I walk up to the merchandise table at The Cassettes show and see a stack of cassette tapes sitting there. Distracted by the other trinkets for sale, I return to the tapes and think to myself, “A band named ‘The Cassettes’ markets their new album on cassette tapes… seriously?” Seriously. Seriously awesome that is.

"Countach" cassette

"Countach" cassette

A popular and well-established DC-based band, The Cassettes describe their sound as “synth-infused country stomp.” What the heck is that supposed to sound like I thought, and now I know, but could never do justice trying to describe. The Cassettes put on a memorable performance at the Black Cat on October 17, featuring songs from their new album—Countach.

Listening to some of their earlier works before the show, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this new album and this latest incarnation of the band, but what I heard was unexpected and engaging. The performance showcased the band’s mastery of pulling together sounds I never thought would work into an artistic confluence that made me want to listen to it all again. The set list took advantage of the band’s range and variety of songs, but remained true to their fundamental sound. If you liked what you’ve heard on their earlier albums or are into “synth-infused country stomp” you’ll definitely like their new material. The beats are a little edgier at times, the vocals a little more robust, and the harmonization of sounds more ambitious overall.

Scanning the audience from time to time it was definitely a relatively thin crowd—considering it was a Friday night at the Black Cat—but it didn’t affect the bands performance or energy level. The kitsch factor is undeniably off the charts with this band and it made me love their performance all the more. Highlights from the show included seeing the theremin (the first musical instrument to be played without being touched) up close and personal and witnessing a group of grown men come out of seemingly no where and clap in syncopated unison to one of the songs. It doesn’t get much better than that.

The Cassettes proved their reputation as one of DC’s stand out local bands is well-deserved. Definitely check them out if you get the chance.

By Christen

When I first heard about The Cassettes, the first thing that came to my mind was that they would be another electro-pop/indie rock band with an infatuation with neon clothing, fanny packs, and 80’s technology. I have never been so happy to learn just how wrong I was.

The Cassettes took the Black Cat’s main stage and before I knew it the crowd had easily quadrupled in size since the last band had played. Clearly these guys had a strong following and I could see why. Like a band of Pied Pipers, they started to play songs from their latest album, “Countach” and we were all instantly mesmerized. Their sound can best be described as steampunk meets country stomp meets classic/indie/rock with a dash of South Asian and Parisian influence all stirred together by Tony Pastor himself in an underground vaudeville variety hall. (You still with me?) Their cornucopian sound was certainly matched by a variety of elements brought to the stage to help bring their music to life. Everything from the silent films being projected behind them to their clothing and instruments (e.g. an accordion, a mouth harp, a Resonator Guitar, and even a Theremin) helped transport you to another era and Arthur Harrison’s voice on “Our Whispers Wake No Clocks” from their “Neath the Path Moon” album took you to another world.

"Countach" Album Cover

"Countach" Album Cover

But perhaps the most effective element not just at their shows, but throughout the album, is the weaving of their different personalities, cultures, and experiences which give each song a slightly different tone and edge, while still maintaining a consistent sound throughout. (Well, that and their awesome merch table. Hello! I bought their new album on a cassette accompanied with a toy horse and matchbox car! Sweet!)

Although there were more bowler hats than side-ponytails, The Cassettes delivered a show that I certainly won’t forget. Now if I can only remember where my boom-box is…

The Cassettes
Experimental

11.18.08
District of Sound
Featured, Reviews
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