The early albums from PJ Harvey were intense, raw and incredibly powerful. Going from soft whispers to manic screams, Dry and Rid Of Me showed Harvey as one of the most amazing musicians to emerge from the early '90s. It is that raw vocal power that came to mind when I first listened to the sophomore album from Forget Cassettes, Salt.
It hasn't been smooth sailing for this band, as only one of the original members remain. Frontwoman Beth Cameron is now joined by Jay Leo Phillips (Apollo Up!) and Aaron Ford (The Sincerity Guild) to make up this Nashville-based trio. I am personally not familiar with their debut album, Instruments Of Action, but if it is anything like this new record, I'll be snagging a copy very soon.
The album explodes with the nearly seven-minute long opener, "Venison." The guitars remind me of some of the more rockin' tunes from Sunny Day Real Estate, walking that fine line between old-school emo and indie rock. Then at about one minute in, the song drops to the quiet plucking of a guitar and Beth's wavering vocals. Over the next couple of minutes the song builds and builds, erupting at the chorus with some crunchy guitars and intense singing from Beth. Damn she has some pipes!
In a really fucked up way, I am slightly reminded of the Kate Bush song "Get Out Of My House" during "Quiero, Quietres." There is just something about the way Beth wails on the line "quiereme o me muero" that made it pop into my head. Up next is one of my favorites from the album, "The Catch." The guitar work and aggressive vocals on this one will totally appeal to fans of Pretty Girls Make Graves. Even at less than five minutes, Forget Cassettes have plenty of time to stylistically change multiple times throughout this brilliant rocker. The changes come in various forms, such as in tempo, volume and even time signature.
Their loud-soft abilities are put to work on "Nicholas," which goes from a creepy, quiet beginning to a loud monstrous climax. Another standout track is "Lonely Does It," which again features huge changes in tempo and intensity. This particular song really allows Beth to show off her voice as she adds layers of harmonies during the peak of the song. She definitely has an awesome range.
Forget Cassettes' new album, Salt, goes from a whisper to a scream with great ease. Taking cues from such influential female vocalists as PJ Harvey and Kate Bush, Beth Cameron's voice is a fascinating instrument in itself. If you dig songs of angst, sorrow and pain with one hell of an edge, make sure you give this one a listen. As I am typing this, the closing song "Tabula Rasa" is blaring from my headphones, filled with horns, crashing drums and layers of beautifully sorrowful vocals. It is a cinematic journey over nine songs, leaving me with only one thing to say - wow.