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Forget Cassettes - Instruments of Action

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Artist: Forget Cassettes

Album: Instruments of Action

Label: Theory 8

Review date: Aug. 27, 2003

Forget Stereotypes

Beth Cameron and Doni Schroeder are in for trouble. They recorded a rock album.

The two make up Forget Cassettes, half of ex-power-popsters Fair Verona. The record was produced by Michael McCarthy (Spoon, …And You Will Know Us), which alone might be enough to make me run for cover. Then there’s the guitar and drums two-piece combo. A Fender Rhodes also figures in the mix, maybe in the attempt to sound organ-ic (pardon the pun). I sense a mess about to happen.

Not so. Forget Cassettes exudes passion with graceful post-rock – easy listening for those who’ve burned their ears on Lilliput. They’re aggressive and angsty, even emotional, without Xeroxing the same “post”-everything posture that’s popular among critic-savvy groups. The songs on Instruments of Action are anything but formulaic, obfuscating the duo’s debt to Mission of Burma and Gang of Four, and infusing the post-rock genre with a modern, explosive sensibility. Given their instruments of choice, they fight an uphill battle all the way, but little here actually sounds rehearsed; instead, this should-be wannabe duo sound energetic, fresh, and vital. In its influence and freshness, this record reminds me of last year’s overlooked Wonderful Educated Bear debut album by Athens’ Heros Severum.

The album opener “German Girls” is, oddly enough, the album’s slowest song, but nonetheless breathtaking. Cameron takes center stage with a quiet four-chord verse oddly reminiscent of the Dismemberment Plan’s anomalous “Respect is Due” ending to The Plan is Terrified. A weary, yet poetic take on the new twentysomething decade of manageable responsibility and unmanageable fun, it segues into “Accismus” with subdued expectancy, where Schroeder joins in on drums and launches into hyperspace. From here on out, Forget Cassettes forgo expectation. Quiet interludes that stretch into songs blend with loud, angular post-rock riffs that stop and start a step ahead of predictability. “A Legacy’s Demise” raindrops delicate Rhodes with accompanied guitar arpeggios for a surprising, quiet beauty in the middle of the album, while “Scales” and “Bruce Wayne” juxtapose these soft moments with crashing splinters of cymbals and distortion. “Like Tiny Swords” takes the fluid, yet aggressive Sunny Day Real Estate path, surpassed only by “Ms. Rhythm and Blues” as the album’s all-out rocker.

They may be but two, but Cameron and Schroeder are no Jack and Meg. They play purple to the mainstream White, letting smart musical spontaneity dictate, rather than mere virtuosity. This is not to say that Forget Cassettes aren’t talented; without the chops, as they say, this shit’s dead in the water.

By Joel Calahan

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