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New Cassettes – Winterhead Review

April 13, 2012 | Posted by Matt Arena
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New Cassettes – Winterhead Review  

1. Left/Right
2. Bite Your Lip
3. Little Extremes
4. Silent Guns
5. The Waxx
6. You are a Slow One
7. Straight Lines
8. Ghosts
9. I’m Not Faithful at All
10. A Militant King
11. I Awoke

In a musical climate where there are new bands popping up every day, it’s rare to find a group that has a distinguishable sound. New Cassettes are one of those rare bands. Though they hail from Northampton, England, they have a sound fitting that of an indie rock band from Brooklyn. Musically layered with the intricate use of two guitars (Owen Reed and Nic Gray, respectively), they range from jumpy indie riffs to slower atmospheric vibes that helps make their music incredibly diverse. After establishing themselves with their debut album ‘The Art of…’ in 2009, New Cassettes are back with ‘Winterhead’, a brand new LP that works as a perfect next step in the natural evolution of the band.

Right off the bat, there are a handful of tracks that catch your attention. ‘Bite Your Lip’ starts off with an infectious guitar riff, almost something you’d expect to hear from a We Are Scientists record, but builds into a fantastic chorus. The beginning riff is layered throughout the song and gives every verse an incredibly fast pace. Drummer Eddy Hoare does some of his best work on the album, as the heavy drumming is impossible to ignore and almost steals the entire track. Another great track is ‘Silent Gun,’ which was released along with ‘Bite Your Lip’ previous to the official release of the album and serves as a perfect example of why this band is so good. The guitar work is arguably at its heaviest here, working in symphony with lead singer Tom Stubb’s vocals to create a song that’s one half madcap and the other half down tempo. In concept those two might seem like conflicting ideals for a song but it’s structured in a way where it just works. The song picks up exactly when it needs to, but times the breakdowns in a way that compliments its faster counterpart. This kind of back and forth is prevalent all throughout ‘Winterhead’. Almost every modern indie rock album has at least one down track, the one that you know instantly when it kicks in that this is the band’s required slow track and never really clicks with the rest of the album. New Cassettes break that trend, as the songs seem to get heavier and heavier the deeper into the record you get. One of these late, hard tracks is ‘I’m Not Faithful At All.’ From the fantastically distorted opening riff, it never lets up. It’s a near flawless compilation of the very best from every member of the band. What stands out more than most is the detailed balance between the dual lead guitarists. The varying riffs never conflict or fight for attention, instead they work in great symmetry with one another, complimenting instead of clashing.

If there were one track that musically feels the most different from the others, it would have to be ‘Straight Lines.’ A bit more relaxed, but by no means a downer, it relies more on the strong vocal and bass work than the usual concentration on guitar and drums. That’s not to say it didn’t have its share of riffs. Just when you think the chorus starts to be become repetitive, it launches into a mini-breakdown of sorts that works really well with the feel of the entire song. It’s definitely the one track that seems like it would be one hell of an experience to hear live. ‘Winterhead’ certainly doesn’t go out quietly, with the last two tracks ‘A Militant King’ and ‘I Awoke’ providing plenty of alt rock noise to round out the album. Bassist Dan Battison’s work shines bright here, as he provides the foundation for what makes these two tracks so good. ‘I Awoke’ ends which almost a full minute of guitar, bass, and drum goodness, almost a total breakdown of every instrument and one of the best endings to an album I’ve head in quite some time.

The 411: Doing exactly what a band should do on their second album, evolving their sound, New Cassettes come with a fantastic sophomore effort. Taking what made them so listenable on the first album and taking it one step further, with the spiraling guitar riffs and surprisingly heavy drum work making ‘Winterhead’ a clear step forward from ‘The Art of…’ Currently on tour with We Were Promised Jetpacks, make sure to check out New Cassettes on their nationwide tour and pick up their stellar new album. You won’t regret it.
Final Score:  8.0   [ Very Good ]  legend

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