Small-Time Machine

Release Date: 03.11.08

Jason Drake has been making music under the moniker Cassettes Won't Listen (CWL) for over three years. He faked a full-band and a label in the beginning, and it worked out well for him (and he even tricked us). His '90s cover album One Alternative came out as a free digital download and made new CWL fans with covers of Pavement's "Cut Your Hair," Blind Melon's "Change," and Liz Phair's "Fuck and Run." CWL's latest release, Small-Time Machine, is all original. Drake, apparently, likes to entertain and win us over with his cover songs when his heart is in a soft spot and then move on to original songs when life hits a rough patch.

Small-Time Machine is about a rough patch. From the first song, "Metronomes," it's clear that he is working out a relationship's drawn out ending. The song is perfectly layered with beats and employs voice mail like CWL's Nobody's Moving, and sets the tone for the rest of the album. CWL is ideal electronica for people who like both hip hop and indie music, because that's where he's coming from and what influences he shows at the beginning of Small-Time Machine. "Large Radio" hints of the Aesop Rock in Drake's vinyl collection, and the beats he made for "Paper Float" - a stand out song that pulls you in from the very beginning with its piano, beats, and guitar - shows that Drake has picked up some tasty from hip hop artists.

The end of the album goes into Postal Service territory. This isn't a bad thing necessarily, it's just that I was so enjoying the beginning of the album where the envelope is pushed more and Jason's influences and originality really come through. This change is noticeable five songs in with "The Broadcast," a song that takes its sweet time building up and gets a lot cooler when Jason starts using a guitar and distortion. While listening to this song (that really builds and fades and then builds again nicely), I thought to myself; "Hmmm... this reminds me a little of the Postal Service." The next song "Two Kids" gets my vote for weakest song on the album and it really reminded me of the Postal Service, but I can see big fans of Ben Gibbard jamming along to it. Jason wraps it up with "The Finish Line," and shows that he's not as white as Ben Gibbard after all.

Small-Time Machine comes out on March 11th. It's an ideal album for city walking when you're having an unsteady day. It's got the sense to know when to stop and when to go, the key to good electronica. People in the New York area can catch Cassettes Won't Listen live in February.

Cassettes Won't Listen

Small-Time Machine