Album Review: Cassavetes – Oh So Long

Oh to hear the unassuming riff of a straight-forward rock’n’roll song, like a cheap, but trusty, bullet to my party gun. Though it hasn’t been the case for a while, Dinosaur Pile-Up’s brand of unsophisticated, yet ruthlessly effective, riffage and nerdy power-pop songwriting is very much “my jam” when party season is in full throttle. Those English fellows have gone off the boil a little, but we could potentially be dealing with a worthy contender in the form of Philadelphia’s Cassavetes, whose album ‘Oh So Long’ takes the parallel approach of simplifying everything and aiming straight (and occasionally true) for the old feelings. Not that they should ever stray into melodramatic territory, no, these are not songs to cry to. These songs are the metaphorical glue that sticks friends together, the odd no man’s land where emotions are felt, but need not be spoken, at least not directly.

For the most part, then, ‘Oh So Long’ fits perfectly in the current throwback trend to the simpler times of 90s rock: an era when rock bands went to considerable lengths to rid themselves of the polished, squeaky cleanliness of the heavy mainstream. Ironically, achieving that crunchy rawness required about as much care as delivering that crystaline clarity. Most members of Cassavetes, in addition, have history in hardcore/punk bands, and those heavier leanings are evident, though systematically passed through the dimming filter. Most tracks, therefore, can be easily described as a quick-fix, straight-shooting, basement-ready rock ditties with a hint of heaviness, a drop of gruff and the lightest touch of that Weezer “je ne sais quoi”.

Oh So Long by Cassavetes

That last part is especially true on album highlight ‘Extra Clear’, from its slacker-grooviness to Agran’s chilled-out vocals by way of that short-lived, but radical, shift into a lovely and emotionally-charged pre-finale. Perhaps it’s in the way Cassavetes make the most of a simple idea. Basic riffs, basic song structure, the occasional touch of flair and yet, somehow, ‘Oh So Long’ manages to avoid the trap of sounding simplistic. From a meagre crop, they reap a strong seed. A seed of consistently capable rock tracks that deliver exactly what they set out to, though one might wish they’d rekindle with the sense of adventure of a track like ’Maribel’ with a little more regularity.


‘Oh So Long’ by Cassavetes is out on now on Black Numbers.

Cassavetes links: Facebook|Bandcamp

Words by James Berclaz-Lewis (@bearclawlewis)


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