Dig out your boom boxes, tape decks and head cleaners because another almost obsolete music format, the cassette tape, is quickly being brought back to life. They’re turning up everywhere, being released by bleeding edge DIY hipster indie bands with a penchant for the self-released EP. Dive deep into your local indie music scene and you’ll see what I mean. Merch tables are filled with them and the frequency of the cassette EP press announcements in my inbox are quickly rising. If vinyl is the format for the high browed music snob, then the cassette is the format for the DIY, crafty crowd.
It’s been a source of great frustration for me of late to discover fabulous up and coming bands live, then realize the only option for continued enjoyment of their music is a format I haven’t owned equipment for in a good decade. Grass Widow, The Baths, Blank Dogs. These are all bands that released music on cassette that I would have liked to have in my music rotation but couldn’t do so because….I DON’T HAVE A CASSETTE PLAYER! God dangit. Who still owns a cassette player? (Besides Blogger Mike who has three. Sheesh.)
Frustration turned to anger after my third attempt to buy music from a band with a cassette only option. (Why, why, why are you making it so difficult to support you?!) Then the anger turned to action. I needed to understand the rationale these artists had for adopting a format that is clearly not widely used. Was it a cost factor? Cool factor? Sound factor? Did they want to languish in obscurity because no one could readily appreciate their music? What…what was the allure?
Welcome to The OCMD trendspotting series, “Cassettes Are The New Vinyl”, where we’ll explore the rational of artists and labels reviving this nearly dead format that so dominated my youth. Tune back in for Part 2 where we’ll get insight from a band and their reasons behind choosing cassette for their physical format.
A long time ago, I posted some great clips from the beta site of this project, Digforfire.tv. It’s like a compilation of little music documentaries from all of your favorite indie rock bands. The production quality is stunning. And it’s finally live. Go check it out and get lost in their library of great videos. Like this one from Band of Horses.
I’ve noticed lately that every Indie music artist seems to release their singles on 7″ vinyl these days. I see full LPs on vinyl too but this appears to be the predominant trend. Can please someone explain this to me? I just don’t get it. Aren’t we living in a digital age and still fighting for the rights of digital music? I understand the nostalgia for vinyl, cassette tapes and 8 Tracks. But if you’re an emerging indie rock band, what is the practicality of having a merch table full of vinyl singles? I never see anyone actually buy them. I don’t own a turntable anymore, do you? And if you are a band that only has two songs, wouldn’t it behoove you to make them available for download online?
As with most indie music festivals today, there’s typically a stage dedicated to the electronic/dance genre. It’s not my usual scene but some of my best festival moments have been enraptured in the energy of a full-fledged, 80s flashback, dance your pants off set from groups like Chromeo – who’s performing on Saturday. ‘Cuz you know, sometimes is so bad it’s good. Here’s a video for ‘Fancy Footwork.’
Yay! I’m in New York. So happy to be here and looking forward a fun weekend of music and friends. Another anticipated performance for me this weekend is experimental group Animal Collective. Their 2007 release, Strawberry Jam, was critically acclaimed. Here’s a new video for Water Curses off the same titled 12″ released this year.
Artist: The Helio Sequence Album: Keep Your Eyes Ahead File Under: Dream Rock Recommended if You Like: Early U2, Band of Horses Featured Tracks: Lately
The Portland-based duo, The Helio Sequence, released their third album ‘Keep Your Eyes Ahead’ in January of this year; but it’s one of those records I just keep coming back to again and again. While this post may be long overdue, the relevance of this recommendation is right on. It’s a great summer album. Perhaps it’s because there are moments on the record that sound so early U2/Joshua Tree I can’t help but feel nostalgic.
To see them live gives you an even greater appreciation of their range and talent. Drummer Benjamin Weikel is mesmerizing to watch on stage with his visceral drumming technique, as if he’s in some altered state of ecstasy. Combined with Brandon Summers refined vocals and radiant layers of reverb guitar, the duo produces a lot of good sound. It’s certainly high on my list for Best of 2008; maybe even claiming title to ‘Sleeper Album of the Year’. So go get it already. Hurry, before the summer’s up.