Monday, August 19, 2013

Chetwynd Cassette by Sheepman: The Review

Listen to Chetwynd Cassette on the bands Bandcamp page

"It's pretty different, a style that's emerging out of Montreal right now"  said Adam Gravelle, bassist and keyboard player for this two track release from Sheepman.  He had asked me earlier if I would give his bands new release a listen and I happily obliged, always eager to test my ears on something new.

To be blunt I know nothing about Sheepman, other than that they are likely from Canada if they are making Montreal style sounds.  Apparently the Canadians are doing something besides ripping off American music for once (I kid I kid....) and the result is presented to us in this two track Cassette Tape Chetwynd Cassette.  

I was initially put off by the notion that anyone in the right mind would release anything on cassette.  Anyone who has spoken to me in public knows I have spent a bunch of time laughing my ass off at the notion of Cassette Store Day, and eagerly away 8-track day and Beta Max day.  Fortunately though, Sheepman were nice enough to provide a Free download off their bandcamp page which made me reconsider the offensiveness of using such a shitty archaic format.  I shrugged, and took the dive.

Two tracks is obviously not much to go off of in terms of a band or this new "Montreal" sound.  If they have nor named it, let it be known as "Canuck-Core".  It is a great name, run with it!  What I seem to get from this two track piece is a bunch of retro sounds, but in a strange twisted way.

Chetwynd reminds me of something playing in the background of a motel lobby.  It's cheesy, poppy, and has almost a 50's doo-whop tone to it, but with a bit of a twistedness to the music.  The singer, like a B-grade Elvis impersonator at a high school prom, belts out some lines that I am not totally sure what they are about.  His voice struggles between off-key and really off-key, and in any other instance it would be comically bad, but in this strange mutant track of Chetwynd it works.  I am not sure if the goal was to make me feel uncomfortable, but it does it well.  The opening guitar (or keyboard?) sounds have an odd tone to them that helpa perpetuate the uneasy feeling.  Maybe Sheepman felt they were being just simple and happy, but I get a Serial Killer vibe from them; like a "haha, we are all having I am taking your face" kind of vibe.

It is almost comically coincidental then that the next track is titled Buffalo Bill.  Maybe this Canuck-Core is really about making you feel unsafe at home at night.  Buffalo Bill is easily the stronger of the two tracks.  An almost 80s prom song gone strange vibe is observed as the song slowly builds.  Adam Gravelle's bass is the hero here providing a haunting bass line that carries the song so well.  The track eventually swells in a slow albeit powerful ballad tone, but that fading and reverberating bass tone remains so perfectly consistent.  It gives off hints of Molly Ringwald slow dancing with her date, albeit in an abandoned factory.   The vocals are once again less telling a story than providing a mood and atmosphere to the already modestly eerie tone.

At the price of nothing for a digital copy there really isn't a reason not to check out Chetwynd Cassette on the notion of nothing more than curiosity.  It is to be said though, that this is definitely not for everyone, and possibly not for most.  The two tracks both have a strange unsettling tone to them that is difficult to digest and provides a sense of emotional instability.  While I am not sure what the real tenants are of Canuck-Core, I am genuinely curious what else will be coming from Montreal (as opposed to Of Montreal).  If anything I have to give Canada credit for not providing me with another tepid, boring, and pretentious electronic rock project with a bunch of ass-holes on macbooks.

Give it a listen, just don't support this cassette nonsense.