With the cassette revival well and truly surging, it’s time to take a look back at 2015’s best tape offerings. With bands and labels releasing cassettes aplenty, there’s all sorts to choose from, particularly from some of the year’s standout labels; Sports Day, Beech Coma, Citrus City, Track & Field and Fox Food.
ARBES – SWIMMER EP
Arbes, a trio hailing from Melbourne, hit the spotlight earlier in the year when they garnered attention from the likes of NME Radar for their debut EP. ‘Swimmer’, released by Sports Day Records, is a dreamy offering of six bedroom pop gems. With glimpses of Alt-J in their sound this debut EP is something special and sets this band out as one to keep an eye on next year.
FRONTYARDS – ‘PEOPLE THAT LOOK LIKE THEIR PETS’
‘Hazy’ certainly springs to mind when listening to this album. Frontyards’ brand of rough, lo-fi pop is underpinned by loose, rattling riffs and washed out vocals, all brought together wonderfully on this album, a co-release from Third Floor Tapes and Catshit Records. While it may sound and feel rough around the edges, some of the lyrics provide a strangely poignant social commentary: ‘Dehumanising love and sex / but romanticising drug addiction’ is one such example from ‘New York’. What’s more? It comes on a really pleasant baby pink cassette tape.
BEECH COMA – ‘VOL. 3’
London’s Beech Coma record label are doing all the right things. With a Singles Club announced and the release of the first Bruising 7″ a few weeks back, this has been a big year for the label. Vol. 3 – the third (and final?) Beech Coma compilation – introduces us to Brighton’s Lactose, whose track ‘Ugly’ is a crunching, pulsing self assessment and one of the tape’s louder moments and Claws, from Norwich, offer up their self described ‘surf-indie-punk’ on ‘To Be A Goth’. The level is brought down a few notches for the likes of Tree House’s ‘Blue Chords’, a gentler, synth laden track. Well deserved coverage in NME has set Beech Coma aside as one of the most promising independent labels for 2016.
HENOHENO – ‘I MADE THESE SONGS BEFORE I MOVED’
This album’s title and many of it’s tracks (‘SHITSHITSHIT’, ‘Destroy’, ‘Ending’ for instance) prepare you for an emotional journey and the music certainly delivers. Layers of synth, acoustic guitar, rugged drum beats and reminiscent vocals, accompanied by a warm hum throughout, create 13 experimental bedroom tracks and an essential 2015 release from West Yorkshire label Fox Food Records.
GOOD TRY – ROCKY EP
When a band releases a song of only 13 seconds it has to capture your attention; ‘the greatest’ pays homage to the ‘greatest dog’ Rocky for whom you feel a great deal of affection by the end of this EP. A co-release from two awesome US tape labels, Track & Field and Citrus City, Good Try’s heartwarming brand of misfit pop on this EP is in the same ilk as Sports, a band signed to Father/Daughter, and Trust Fund, whose album ‘Seems Unfair’ has just been released. Another band out of Australia to keep your eyes on come 2016.