Having endured the trauma of having many a cassette ‘chewed up’ and spat out by various tape players over the years (oh the horror)...plus wasting many an hour trying to find particular tracks by having to fast forward/rewind through the damn things I’m amazed that they seem to be making a hip comeback. Whatever next? Dial up internet connections? Wax cylinders? Rickets? Still, anything that gets more people going into their local record store and buying music is fine by me and this afternoon’s event was hosted by Swordfish Records which, since its move to a new location a few months back, happily seems to be enjoying a new lease of life. Five bands / artists had pitched up to show some love for the old cassette and each played two or three tracks (hence the less than comprehensive review)...enough for a ‘cassingle’...ahem...as we called them back in the day.
Oliver Rudge was up first. He’s picking up some decent press right now and it’s not hard to hear why. There’s an easy going feel to his vocal and songs and Blue Neon’s build from fragile skeletal sketch to soaring climax impressed.
After the breakup of folk hopefuls The Young Runaways some of the band has regrouped as Drakelow. Swallowing Diamonds is one of their first releases and this afternoon, stripped back to just guitar, violin and vocals, it still shone. I’ve long since given up predicting success for particular songs or bands (my success rate was woeful...either down to my lousy taste or that of the ‘public’...you be the judge) but, hell, it doesn’t take much of a leap to imagine this track going down a storm at Glasto one day. Top marks for their cover of The Wonderstuff’s Here Comes Everyone too. Miles’ would have been proud of that one.
Next up Tom Peel...every home should have one. Ring Ring Ring takes that annoying modern phenomenon of the mobile phone ringtone and transforms it into a love song. Genius. He’s got dozens of songs like this though...all queuing up to find a home in your ears. Bonus points for using a vintage Tascam tape player in one of his songs too (hurrah), but points deducted for not bringing along some cassettes to flog (boooo!), something that Cannon Street had happily covered. In fact they’d gone beyond the call of duty by recording 5 unique tapes featuring two different songs on each plus a personal message on the B side...all for £3. Bless ‘em. To paraphrase pasty Masterchef scoff bucket and bar room brawler Greg Wallace, country folk tinged singing siblings don’t get much better than this.
Last up Midnight Bonfires, another new-ish folk-ish band making waves in B-Town. I’d not seen them before but the lead singer’s voice (think the offspring of Devendra Banhart and Anthony...of ‘and the Johnsons’ fame) is a strangely beguiling thing. Opening number Darkness Falls was like being rocked to sleep by a hairy angel whilst the last number of their set sounded like Nirvana having a jam with The Faces round a campfire (no idea what it was called...answers on a postcard please).
Whether National Cassette Store Day will be cherished by music fans as passionately as its vinyl big brother remains to be seen. Despite my best intentions I found myself getting strangely nostalgic for those little plastic boxes though and left with 7 of ‘em...I know...I need therapy.