Despite only being officially formed in recent years, the Chipping Norton duo Cassels have swiftly established a prominent name for themselves in the DIY scene. With two critically received EP’s under their belt and from sharing stages with the likes of Beach Slang, Tall Ships and Milk Teeth, it’s no surprise that the group have been promptly snagged up by Big Scary Monsters, the independent label that is home to some of the best contemporary artists within the UK. The bands debut full length, Epithet - is an album that is sure to open a few eyes to scene so often overlooked and a release that perfectly captures the tone and ethos of the DIY scene.
Immediately, it becomes evident that it’s impossible to pigeon hole their sound to a certain genre. Whilst containing elements of math-rock, punk and somewhat indie, it would be crime to pinpoint Cassles to a certain category. Truly, it’s a homegrown sound that’s fantastically and therapeutically fresh; a welcome sight in these times where a plethora of emerging acts are eager to recycle stereotypical genre conventions to appeal to certain demographics. This release is the polar opposite of this, evidently the duo are dedicated to forging their own path in the world of alternative music.
With this in consideration, Epithet isn’t a release that conforms to the stereotypical conventions of popular music. It’s jarring, discordant and lurching and constantly swings on the fence between chaotic fretwork and melodic, humbling structures. Yet, the constant contrast in sound within the tracks is that makes the album so infectious, compelling and freshly unique. It’s a towering, masterfully and lovingly crafted sound that’s impressive despite what the listener may deem as musically skilled writing. This element only becomes more impressive considering the fact that there’s 2 members within this act.
Certainly, it’s a challenging listen; but not in the sense of it being intimidating or alienating. There’s a deeply reverberating sense of youthful angst and pessimism within the lovingly detailed tracks present within this release that’s wholeheartedly enjoyable. It’s generally impossible to pinpoint certain highlights within this record due to the fact that each track contains it’s own atmosphere and identity, whilst still perfectly presenting the established sound the group have delicately crafted. It’s a release that truly needs to be listened to in full to be fully appreciated.
However one of the most prominent and cathartic elements of this release is the vocal delivery and cynical lyricism. Whilst it’s often regarded as cliché to compare the two, the lyrics on each track could easily hold their own as contemporary and topical poetry. The vast majority of the lyrics within this release are presented though the art of spoken word and cynically and frustratingly detail the despairing state of the socio-political climate within the UK and the general feeling of being surrounded by hostile ideologies.
The lurching ‘Let’ details the dangerous aspect of arrogant patriotism, ‘War’ cynically and frustratingly explores the harrowing experiences of growing up in broken homes and the frantic and quite frankly pissed off ‘Where Baseball Was Invented’ attacks arrogant pastimes of the unpleasant right wing middle class in a darkly humorously fashion. Certainly, the lyricism and topics explored won’t resonate with everyone, but it certainly will with listeners growing up frustrated at the current political and social state of the UK and directly correlates with the musically challenging tones of the album.
To conclude, Epithet is a fresh, unique and therapeutically pleasant that explores these uncertain times in a youthful, yet mature manner and tone. If you don’t truly appreciate and enjoy it on first listen, please persevere and ultimately enjoy the sounds of the one of the most exciting and cathartic acts within the DIY and underground alt scene.