Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Cassettes on Flannel Gurl / Chapeau Records

Got another single today in my shipment from Flannel Gurl Records, this one from The Cassettes. FG has taken it upon themselves to record and release Southwest Virgina's artists. The rest of the state can suck it! This one couldn't be further stylistically from their last release, Buck Gooter, but if this is what the region is fostering, then so be it.
This is a seven inch from a band called the Cassettes, with turn of the century graphics on the sleeve. Did this tiny, handwriten style of the old days have anything to do with the painstaking effort it took to typeset everything? They had to pack the info all on one sheet? The Cassettes are also packing the instrumentation into 3 era bending tracks. Folky carnival ensemble epics.

A-Side's "I've Been gone" sets the epic orchestral tone with chimes, acoustic guitars, cello's, and a twangy wet reverb electric guitar, among others....the liner notes list an impressive mass of musicians that are all arranging their own two cents in...including something called a Contra bass? Had to look that one up. Very Decembrists sounding feel here, a clever narrative, enacted with spectacles, those cut out puppet stop motion animations from Monty Python...or Albert Nobbs!
All kinds of ancient references to bygone days, huge themes of love... the seasons, more old stuff, the seas...this is going to be all about traveling. Precious mandolin, finger picking as fast as possible. Pleasant carnival music for Amelie...seems nice.

A break between tracks of the sea and a locomotive steam whistle for "Far Too Long" to break in with a theremin solo. Lots of big echo on these vocals and a slide guitar finds it's way front and center.
They seem to be working with every possible genre and time period at once, borrowing bits and pieces from all of them. All the band members sing along with their own echo and harmonies before it gets cowboy again, acousticly dusty...this is what steampunk is right? That weird future past mix of really nice looking design... that isn't practical at all.
Makes sense then that this was recorded everywhere from a monastic hillock in sweden to a cabin in VA.
The B-Side, "Watchers", has a false start of banjo, accidentally hitting the strings, getting ready on the stool, motioning to the orchestra assembled in the barn. This is that kind of folk music and slow rock combination, balanced between the traditional and the pop. I worry about them touring in multiple vehicles and with these massive piles of instruments. Shelby is sounding like Mark Lannegan or Nick Cave. There's fireflies and chinese lanterns, gather round, there's huge stories here about the inception of the band, all of their travels, the huge mess of instruments... it's nice they found each other.
It turns into an acoustic slow jam, with twinkling moog and crickets.
A locked groove of crickets to go on forever. I'm going to go fall asleep now.
Best use of a locked groove 2012. They had to scratch a message in the gutter between the locked groove that hits the center label...most impressive Bontai mastering nyc.

On black vinyl, with lot's of other color variations and collector packages at Flannel Gurl Records, a postcard for keeping in touch, all kinds of Chris Ware-ish fine print exactly the opposite of what fne print usually says. "A sound recording from our hearts to your soul" TM. (Secret messages in the gutter.)

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