November 30, 2011

A Stocking Stuffer Guide to Cassettes

If you follow AwkwardSound on Twitter, you'll often see tweets of AS' latest cassette purchases or a heads up regarding upcoming releases. Now that you've had some time to let the 25 Best Albums of 2011 list sink in (which hopefully has resulted in a few new holiday wishes along the way,) take a moment to check out some of AwkwardSound's favorite unsung hero cassette releases over the past year. Many of these are limited in quantity but still available to purchase online by following the links below. There's been some criticism over the resurrection of cassette culture over the past few years, but let's get real: Cassettes are pretty affordable, compact in size, easy for young bands to produce and quickly release, and finally, put the intimacy back into listening to an album from start to finish. That said, these indestructible plastic wonders of audio make a perfect stocking stuffer for your favorite music fan this holiday season (as long as they still own a stereo with a tape deck.)

Ceremony - 6 Cover Songs
While this isn't a cassette exclusive release, it marks an important turning point for a band that AwkwardSound is going to predict will be pretty huge in 2012. Before Ceremony conquers the indie rock world by joining the massively successful Matador Records roster, the Rohnert Park band delivers its swan song for Boston-based hardcore label Bridge Nine Records in the form of this six-song covers EP. Here, Ceremony pays homage in their own distinct way to the likes of popular indie rock acts (The Pixies, Wire) without forgetting the smaller punk bands who've had a huge impact on their sound as well (Urban Waste, Crisis, Eddie and the Subtitles.) 6 Cover Songs can be ordered directly from Bridge Nine's webstore.
Buy it here.

Culture Kids - Culture Kids
I don't know much about Culture Kids other than the fact that they're a great sounding Bay area hardcore band whose self-titled debut is produced by BUZZSound alumni Ty Segall. Considering so many great hardcore and punk bands have come out of the California scene over the past few years (Trash Talk, Touché Amoré, Loma Prieta,) it would not surprise me if this is the just the stirring of some larger rumblings to come our way from Culture Kids. You can pick up this absolute must-have hardcore listen from one of the best cassette labels out there right now, the San Francisco-based Burger Records.
Buy it here.

Disappears - Live At Echo Canyon
Even though Guider gets all the praise, Disappears' little-known cassete-exclusive release Live At Echo Canyon is just as formidable a listen. It marks the first effort in which Sonic Youth's Steve Shelley actually sits in on the recording session, and contrary to what the title suggests, this isn't your typical live album. Other than the fact it was recorded in one take at Hoboken's Echo Canyon studio, the EP-length release features four new Disappears tracks alongside a cover of Suicide's "Radiation," all which can be purchased from Chicago DIY label Plus Tapes.
Buy it here.

Fucked Up - Mixtape 4
So you've got David Comes to Life and you love it so much that you've named it the best album of 2011. What more can a Fucked Up fan ask for? How about Mixtape 4, the latest installment in a series of cassette mix releases by the hardcore band. Until this year, these mixes were sold only on Fucked Up's tour stops, but have recently made its way onto their web store. Mixtape 4 features everything from live takes, demos, singles, b-sides and interview banter from the Toronto punks over a span of the past few years (including some from the David Comes to Life sessions, making it a must-have for any of Fucked Up's listeners. And speaking of which...
Buy it here.

Marvelous Darlings - Single Life
When Fucked Up guitarist Ben Cook isn't pushing hardcore into new uncharted territory, he's plugging out some sweet sounding power pop jams alongside pals Matt Delong and Mark Fosco on their sidepiece project, Marvelous Darlings. Another great release from the always-dependable Burger Records, Single Life is the first complete collection of long sold-out 7" singles put out by the Canadian band between 2008 and 2010 that should hold you over until Marvelous Darlings release new material in the upcoming new year.
Buy it here.

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