Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Poised over the play button

"It's a loveless city / You've got to grab what you can / It's okay..."

"Your Cassette Pet", a new thing from every cowboy and cowgirl's label of choice, 555, is indeed a proper audio cassette. Cassettes are still brilliant, not in a ooh-aren't-we-retro way (*nothing* is good in an aren't-we-retro ? way), but in a kind of ooh, satisfying click of cassette into machine, sticking one finger up at the audiophiles while sinking another onto the button to press "play" and pressing it down until a gentle click and a familiar whirr let you know that the music is on its way, er way. This is no cassingle revival - what 555 appear to have done here is just get as many bands as they can (32!), including but not confined to many past collaborators, to throw new tracks at them, and strung them out over a full C90 or so, meaning that there's more packed in here than you can get on any CD, and nothing that you'd be able to track down otherwise without employing private investigators.

Above all, the bands and songs on here are still of the calibre of any other artists that have dented the 555 roster, or appeared on 555 compilations over the years, although here is not really the place for yer over-experimenters or your "Chihauauas and Chinese noodles" remixes: aside from some pleasingly dense stuff from Hood side-project The Declining Winter, this is 555 in song mode, perhaps attempting, like that International Lo-Fi Underground "Honey The Dog's Home" comp, to try and breath life into the near corpse of "indie", now that indie has become accepted shorthand for "band with guitars who aren't the Rolling Stones".

Picking highlights would be hard and a little unfair, but we'll mention for now Mytty Archer's "Fire In Sydney", the School of Two's "Party Line" (so that's where the genius Jason Sweeney (you know, Other People's Children, Simpatico) has got to!), Sarandon's "Soapy", Dr Konig Arthus' "Ende der Fahnenstange" (how had we never discovered this band earlier ?) great tunes from Akina Kawauchi and Forest Giants, and the Grey Tapes' epic closer, "0.20 a.m.". Oh, and a word for the Green Apple Sea's plaintive "The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton", which is far better, and more deliciously affecting, than the title gives it any right to be. And has nothing to do with Inspector Frost's patch.

We could go on - there are well over a score of tunes that merit closer and better examination - but why not leave you to discover them ? Because essentially, not least given exchange rates, this is a steal. Less than a price of a pint, and far more lasting goodness.