The Cassettes, also known as the Cassettes Musical Explorers Society, began as a side project of random home recordings from guitarist/vocalist Shelby Cinca. Cinca is mostly known for the post-hardcore bands Frodus and Decahedron.
This project, however, doesn’t build on the sounds of his previous works, but rather offers an escape to more melodic and adventurous pastures. The original line up held together by members of Dead Meadow and Weird War briefly cut their teeth with two albums before splitting up due to other commitments.
The lineup evolved to include Saadat Awan, who plays drums, tablas and additional vocals; Stephen Guidry on Moog Synthesizers, the Cajun accordion and other various instruments; and Arthur Harrison who plays Theremin and provides additional vocals. With the lineup solidified, they refined their musical chops on various overseas tours and studio work. Recently they completed and released their third album and first on Buddyhead Records, entitled “Neath the Pale Moon.”
“Neath the Pale Moon” builds on territory briefly touched upon in earlier releases. However, it takes a huge step forward with the new lineup’s musical diversity, described as the world’s first “steam punk” band– a term used to describe a subgenre of speculative fiction that focuses on works set in the past, or a world resembling the past.
The Cassettes’ website coins the term synth-infused country stomp to describe their sound. I argue that is a justified moniker. The album feels like it is set in a parallel dimension, and yet with the inclusion of synths and the Theremin, it gives some of the songs a modern feel.
Standout tracks include the infectious opener “Lady fair,” “Burglar in the Bungalow” and “Rouge Gnome.” Overall, the album is very strong. For more information on the band check out their website www.thecassettes.com or their myspace page.