Friday, July 8, 2011

Hey Hey, They're The Cheap Cassettes!

If you've been wondering what Charles Matthews Morrissey has been up to since the Dimestore Haloes broke up, well it's been a long, strange trip. He bought a shrimp boat like Forrest Gump. He started a one-man John Denver tribute band called Country Roads that was banned from several live venues due to excessive drunkenness. He did something so unmentionably perverse for a Klondike Bar that I cannot in good conscience share specific details. He bought a Shake Weight but never uses it. Lord knows we've missed his presence in our little slice of the music world. I know I'm biased because he's a friend of mine, but I think he's one of the best songwriters to come out of the punk rock underground since I've been following it. The world is a better place with his music in it. If you're a Haloes fan, you've got to be stoked about The Cheap Cassettes - a new collaboration between Chaz and his old bandmate Kevin "Mess" Parkhurst.

Separated by the 5,000 or so miles between Boston and Hawaii, Chaz and Kevin aren't exactly rehearsing five nights a week. But through the magic of modern recording technology and occasional teleportation, they've managed to record one-third of their debut album and share it with the world on their Band Camp page. While some might say that The Cheap Cassettes sound like the Haloes, that's kind of like saying that Tony Montana reminds you of Michael Corleone. There are some obvious similarities, yes, but this is a new band entirely. Spiritually and stylistically, The Cheap Cassettes are all about the power pop. Citing unassailable influences such as the Plimsouls, Cheap Trick, Material Issue, Elvis Costello, and The Paul Collins Beat and operating under the mantra of "big guitars and big hooks", this duo is more than worthy of being named after a Figgs song. And a no-frills, relatively lo-fi recording aesthetic gives their music a rough-around-the-edges charm that's too often missing from "power" pop. These two may have pop in their hearts, but they've got rock n' roll in their blood. Dwight Twilley would approve. Alex Chilton would have, too!

So how's the album sounding so far? Pretty great! Hands down, the "hit" is "My Little Twin". It's just so fucking catchy, and it's got this rambunctious energy to it that kinda sorta brings to mind early Replacements covering Big Star. Love it! "Get Low" ain't bad either. It's got a nice down-tempo beat and a sing-along chorus you won't be able to get out of your head without extensive professional help. Do you like handclaps? Awesome guitar solos? Yeah, me too! No one's gonna mistake Chaz for Kyle Vincent vocally, but I really think that works for The Cheap Cassettes. It gives their songs grit. Chaz will always sound like Chaz, which makes him somewhat unique in a scene full of wannabe Stivs and imitation David Jos. If you're a fan of his solo release Amazing Graceless or the last Haloes album Ghosts of Saturday Night, it's a money-back guarantee you'll like The Cheap Cassettes just as much. It's probably not a co-incidence that the Haloes made their best recordings after Kevin joined the band. He's a talented dude, and from what I hear he's completely obsessed with obscure power pop recordings from the '70s and '80s. He and Chaz flat-out click as a duo, and with The Cheap Cassettes the two are fully indulging their mutual love for power pop. I highly approve! And what's not to love about a free digital album that keeps growing and growing? Today it's four songs. Maybe tomorrow it'll be five. You don't have to wait two years until the album is "complete". They finish a new song, and you get a new song. Instant gratification, folks! It's the way of the future! Far out!

- L.R.


Shawn Abnoxious said...

"Bought a shake weight but never uses it"

I actually laughed out loud reading that... A night of rowdy John Denver? Sounds like a challenge im up for.

Greg said...

I can't stop playing these songs and it's cutting into The Mongrolls studio time. What am I going to do?! Fuck it, I'm just gonna play these songs again.

Shawn Abnoxious said...

I tried playing these songs but something wasnt jivving on the internet. Go ahead and have a listen on my behalf Greg...