Does hailing from Texas automatically brand you an "alt-country" band when you leave? Such was the dilemma three Texan friends faced after reuniting in Boston, adding a local Bostonian, and taking the name CASSAVETTES. But after five years, four albums, an armful of awards, and energetic shows with The Allman Brothers, Kings of Leon, and Dr. Dog, just to name a few, does it really matter what people label your music?
Known for energetic, powerful live shows that crackle with the electricity of The Replacements, Old 97s, and The Rolling Stones, Cassavettes (pronounced kass-uh-vets) has turned more than a few heads, locally and beyond -- scooping up "Best Local Band" in the Boston Phoenix reader's poll, nabbing a Boston Music Award nod for "Outstanding Americana Act" and "Best Roots Act" in the Boston Phoenix Best Music Poll 2009, and making a splash at South By Southwest 2007 and 2008 in Austin, Texas, the Midpoint Music Festival 2007 in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the Dewey Beach Music Conference 2008 in Dewey Beach, Delaware.
Extensive touring from the northeast to Nashville and back to their native Texas, as well as hometown gigs headlining The Paradise Rock Club and Middle East Downstairs, helped the group solidify a live persona, which was captured on the recent live album, "Animal Friends." Most recently, Cassavettes brought that raw energy to the studio with Dave Minehan (Paul Westerberg; The Neighborhoods) and Todd Thibaud at the helm to produce "Shake Down the Sun." The new record was released in the fall of 2009, and has already garnered rave reviews, including being named one of the Top Records of 2009 by several publications. Additionally, its songs continue to consistently chart in CMJ's Top 200.
Crossbreeding the sounds of The Band and Neil Young with contemporary influences like Superdrag, Nada Surf, and Ryan Adams, the band mixes the sound into a blend of rock, folk, country, and blues. While they've drawn comparisons to everyone from The Byrds to Tom Petty to Young himself, the Weekly Dig called Cassavettes' music difficult to "pin down" -- and that's exactly how the band likes it. Cassavettes blurs genres musically, while keeping the storytelling element prominent in folk and country lyrics. The Boston Globe said this gives Cassavettes "charm to spare."
Cassavettes has shared the stage with the diverse likes of...
- The Allman Brothers Band
- Bob Weir & Ratdog (Grateful Dead)
- Kings of Leon
- Dr. Dog
- The Toadies
- Letters to Cleo (reunion show)
- Heartless Bastards
- Deer Hoof
- The Devil Makes 3
- Jesse Malin (Ryan Adams; D Generation)
- Drag the River
- Earlimart (Elliot Smith/Grandaddy)
- Tim Easton
- Hymns (toured with Beck, The Lemonheads, and Ben Kweller)
- David Dondero (named one of top 10 living songwriters by NPR; Bright Eyes collaborator).
Among Cassavettes' recent accomplishments:
- Selected to participate in South By Southwest (SXSW 2007, 2008), Midpoint Music Festival 2007 in Cincinnati, Dewey Beach Americana Fest 2007 and 2008, Dewey Beach Pop Fest and Music Conference 2008 in Dewey Beach, Dela., San Antonio Indie Fest 2007, NEMO 2006, WBCN's Rock N Roll Rumble 2007
- Boston Globe CD PICK OF THE WEEK, December 2-9, 2006, for "It's Gonna Change"
- Boston Phoenix BEST MUSIC POLL 2009 nominee for "Best Roots Act"
- Voted BEST LOCAL BAND by Boston Phoenix readers in the 2006 Best of Boston Poll
- BOSTON MUSIC AWARDS "Outstanding Americana Act Of The Year" 2006 nominee
- Named one of the Top Records of 2009 by Boston Music Spotlight, WBCN radio, and more
- 2007 WBZ-TV A-LIST AWARDS nominee for BEST ALBUM, "It's Gonna Change"
- Headlined Boston's biggest rooms including The Paradise Rock Club and The Middle East Downstairs
- Finalist in OriginalSessions/Rolling Rock National Band Search, spring 2007
- The song "On Our Own" charted in Neil Young's top 30 "Songs of the Times" list
Creamer Management, email@example.com
Glenn Yoder - Vocals, Guitar, Piano
Mike McCullagh - Vocals, Guitar
Scott Jones - Bass Guitar
Josh Kiggans - Drums
"Shake Down the Sun" LP
Recorded: Dec. 2008-March 2009 at Woolly Mammoth Studios, Waltham, MA
Release date: Nov. 6, 2009
Key notes: Continues to consistently chart in CMJ's Top 200; was named one of the Top Records of 2009 by Boston Music Spotlight and several other music news outlets
"Animal Friends" LP
Recorded: Feb. 1, 2008 in front of a live audience at The Milkhouse Studio, Allston, MA
Release date: May 16, 2008
Key notes: A live album recorded with our closest friends and fans; received airplay before its release on several radio stations
"It's Gonna Change" LP
Recorded: August-October 2006 at Hi-N-Dry Studios in Cambridge, MA
Release Date: Dec. 9, 2006
Key Notes: Boston Globe's CD Pick of the Week, Dec. 2006; 2007 WBZ-TV A-List Awards nominee for Best Album; Regular airplay for first single "On Our Own" on nationwide college radio, in every state; "On Our Own" charted in Neil Young's top 30 "Songs of the Times" list of over 4,500 songs; heavy local play on WBCN, WFNX, and WBOS; strong podcast and Internet radio play.
"Whitewash the Blues" EP
Recorded: July 2005 at know.ledge.one Studios in Boston, MA
Release Date: August 2005
Key Notes: Several tracks including "Empire Central," "Marie," "Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This" and "Research Boulevard" have received considerable airplay on Boston's WFNX (101.7 FM), WBCN (104.1 FM), WTBU (89.3 FM), and WERS (88.9 FM).
Someone you should know
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November 6, 2009 Cassavettes' new album, "Shake Down the Sun," is a scalding attack on inertia - ...November 6, 2009
Cassavettes' new album, "Shake Down the Sun," is a scalding attack on inertia - with the band proving once again that they are one of the best going. (The original band: Glenn Yoder, Mike McCullagh, Matt Snow and Scott Jones - are friends and each is present and accounted for on the new record.)
The 12 tracks on "Shake Down" deftly navigate the waters of the band's last three years. Some are more obviously, but updated, versions of the band's Americana past. Others are more howling versions of the band's wrestle with the Pop Sound. And there are abundant examples of their new and glorious future: rock-fueled soul tracks that uses emotion as a primary motivator. This is the Cassavettes that Boston folks have come to know and love - but it's Cassavettes 3.0 - a time when the band is getting better almost daily. This is why RSL has tapped this material as Best of 2009 material.
Over the course of the last three years, Cassavettes have found themselves the standard support for a number of prestigious band. The Allman Brothers, Bob Weir & Ratdog, Superdrag, Jesse Malin and Kings of Leon all tapped them to open the stage on different dates. The offers kept coming and Cassavettes have not let them down.
GLENN YODER of CASSAVETTES: "That Paradise gig (opening up for KOL) really seemed to jump-start our career, actually, more than any other I can think of. KOL showed up after losing all their equipment on a flight connection in Japan, were quite surly, and played sort of a half show after some fans got them all riled up. It was a free show, and as I recall, it was the evening the Kevin Garnett trade was announced. So people were in full-on party mode. We still get people coming up to us, telling us that it was a great time and a show they discovered us at."
RYAN SPAULDING for RSL: "Let's talk about 'Shake Down the Sun.' What was your approach to writing this songs and recording the album? How was it different this time around?"
YODER: "This time it was all about letting the songs really sound, well, BIG. I wanted to put that old 'Let It Bleed' tagline in the liner notes, "This Record Was Made to Be Played Loud," but we figured that idea had been played out. Either way, the record was indeed made to be played loud, because that's how these songs sound best. Over the years, we've evolved into a louder, more "rock" band, and this record reflects that change.
"It actually hits you over the head with it. We have a beast on the drums, who has once been described as trying to put his stick through the drumhead, and keep in mind, Mike and Scott grew up admiring Metallica. Our record certainly doesn't sound like Metallica, but we indulged those rockier aspirations that were lurking deep within us. It turns out that, deep down, we are a rock band. This record is a coming of age story, I suppose -- like "Harold & Maude" without fake suicides and sex with old ladies."
RSL: "Let's talk about the band. In what sense is the new material reflective of you and the band? Or, are these songs inhabited by original characters of fictitious origins?"
YODER: "Well, lyrically, it's a mix bag as it always will be when you have two writers writing separately. Mike likes to write about certain subjects, and I have my comfort spots. This is the first record we've made that doesn't have a song we've teamed up on lyrically (however, we often play with each other's progressions, melodies, etc). So, I think the contrast may be more stark than previous records, which is in some ways cool. Also, these songs are a long time coming, since we haven't put out a studio CD since December 2006, so it's really a document of a few years worth of growth, personally and with the band. Kind of a time capsule. Or, like I said earlier, a coming of age story? That circled back nicely.
RSL: "Would you be willing to take a song from Shake Down the Sun and try to do your best to describe how it came to be?"
YODER: "As I've grown as a lyricist (hopefully), I've started putting a lot more emphasis on writing the words separately. Growing up, I'd often just fit words into what sounded cool or worked in the meter, and if something cool came of that, great, if not, then it was just "playing music." Eh, not always the best way to get good results. Starting with the first Cassavettes record, I think we've really placed a premium on storytelling, and the words have taken center stage.
"I often will write things separately, like a melody and a couplet or a verse, and then pair them together if it feels right. A song like "Golden Fleece" is a great example of that, as it was a story I was trying to get at -- half-true, half-fiction -- about this old woman who is just trying to find peace of mind after a life of extreme misfortune. Heady stuff, I realize, but I had a very clear vision of this character and who I wanted her to be, and the melody was just something I'd been toying with for ages. Eventually, the two made perfect sense together, and from there, it was just a process of refinement until it sounded like it sounded in my head.
"Not all songs work that way, though -- some click instantly. "Lights On" I wrote while we were on tour in Texas in about 10 minutes. I had just woken up at my old friend Jimmy's house, and was playing his guitar while he kept sleeping in the other room. I recorded the song into my cell phone, flew back to Boston, and hardly changed a thing about it when I turned it over to the band. So, it can really go either way."
Another Best of the Year nomination from Boston Music Spotlight
By BMS Staff
January 8, 2010
2009 was an incredible year for local music. It seems every day that another awesome new album from a New England band arrived in our mailbox. It’s a true testament to all the superbly talented bands that make up the local music scene. It was tough to select but here are just a dozen of our favorite albums of 2009 (in no particular order).
Cassavettes – Shake Down the Sun: Glenn Yoder told us that the rock edge on Sun is a result of the band letting drummer Matt Snow (Animal) out of his cage. Let’s just say that we’re quite happy they decided to allow him to run free, especially on “Shotgun Wedding.”
Roaring right out of the gate
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By Luke O'Neil Dec. 5, 2006 SOUND CHECK - CD PICK OF THE WEEK There's charm to spare on the fir...By Luke O'Neil
Dec. 5, 2006
SOUND CHECK - CD PICK OF THE WEEK
There's charm to spare on the first full-length from urban cowboys Cassavettes. The Boston band, led by Glenn Yoder, hangs fragile melodies, gloomy strings, and casually chiming guitar figures over a series of lived-in acoustic shuffles, swampy open-road stompers, and broken-down breakdowns. If the abundant harmonies waver at times, and the tossed-off tunes lose focus in a few spots, it's a testament to the likability of the record that minor missteps like that detract little. "Lightning in a Bottle" breaks the hang dog pace of the record's first half with a triumphant and ambitious up-tempo rocker that clocks in at 9 1/2 minutes. Sure, there are bits of Tom Petty and Neils Young and Diamond here, but that's par for the alt-country territory the band is mining. And besides, these 11 world-weary songs belie the band members' youth. They're probably still working their way through their first few broken hearts and bottles of whiskey upon which musical careers like this are built.
A SUBSEQUENT LIVE REVIEW IN JANUARY 2007 BY GLOBE WRITER JONATHAN PERRY SAID THIS ABOUT CASSAVETTES' LIVE SHOW:
The Boston buzz band Cassavettes, who last year won a Boston Music Award as "Outstanding Americana Act," followed with an exuberant set of Laurel Canyon-tinged country rock that fell somewhere between the Beachwood Sparks (the quieter, pastoral moments) and Old 97's (the louder ones).
As such, the foursome's pearl-buttoned Western-style shirts and Chuck Taylor All-Star sneakers matched its tastes perfectly.
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By Pat Healy Published 5.9.06 By taking the Beatles' "Revolver"-stomp to the saloon and getting ...By Pat Healy
By taking the Beatles' "Revolver"-stomp to the saloon and getting it high on jazz in the backroom, four Texas ex-pats known as Cassavettes mosey away from the same old tear-in-my-beer twang and provide an alternative to alternative-country (Alt-alt-country?).
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Published Sept. 27, 2007 What are all these Texans doing in Boston, getting voted Best Local Band...Published Sept. 27, 2007
What are all these Texans doing in Boston, getting voted Best Local Band in the Boston Phoenix and scoring a Boston Music Award nomination for Outstanding Americana Act? Very well, it would seem, as Cassavettes mixes Beatlesque melodicism with Folk expanse and boozy Rock swagger. Like Elvis Costello comparing divorce stories with Mojo Nixon over a half a hundred beers while the bar band plays Ryan Adams and Neil Young covers.
Genre Benders: A little bit country. And rock ‘n’ roll and punk and ...
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By Jeff Wallace February 2010 On the surface it feels like the Cassavettes would sit nicely next...By Jeff Wallace
On the surface it feels like the Cassavettes would sit nicely next to your Wallflowers collection. You may even feel the need to tie a sweater around your hips and rip your jeans at the knees. But the Cassavettes show much more range than that, calling on bits and pieces of country, punk, and, of course, ’90s alternative. It’s like they got down and dirty cleaning out rock ’n’ roll’s closet, stole what they liked, then glued it into place with some pop guitar. At times you can hear the band stepping out of Elvis Costello’s shadow, venturing into the stormy waters that the Kings of Leon rode straight to the bank. In other spots the Cassavettes hit more like a rocked-up younger brother to the Jayhawks. Everywhere you get a sense of something friendly and familiar, but never too familiar.
Come back for more
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By Brian McGrath February 2007 issue Certainly the title of Cassavettes' first full-length album...By Brian McGrath
February 2007 issue
Certainly the title of Cassavettes' first full-length album could refer to any number of things, not the least of which might be the Boston music scene itself. Cassavettes' sound resides outside the cliches of Boston's mainstream rock genre, and while they might find a home amongst the folkies, their mix of country, folk, and rock doesn't really fit there, either. Perhaps it all comes from the band's Texas roots; their country leanings seem to carry a Southern authenticity that is often lacking in Northeastern country acts. But in the same way that Texas isn't really part of the South, Cassavettes isn't really country. The same could be said about any of the styles one can pick out in their sound. It's as if they've distilled the geographic qualities of Texas -- on the border, but not across it, familiar, yet close to foreign -- into a musical quality.
The album opens with the haunting "The Nadir." This track clearly demonstrates the Neil Young influence that Cassavettes readily admit -- not by mirroring Young's signature vocal style, but by focusing on the laid-back rock/country musical and the storyteller lyrical style. It is this storyteller quality, in fact, which is as much a defining quality of Cassavettes as their genre-bending. The proceeding three songs, "Debts," "On Our Own" and "Trouble From The Start," all follow this lyrical formula with great results.
"Seasons" breaks into more abstract ground lyrically, aiming more to capture a feeling than tell a story. The song also showcases a memorable a capella moment by the band. A jazzy intro sets "Lightning In A Bottle" apart from the rest of the album before the same almost-country sound that is Cassavettes' signature settles in for the majority of the song, with occasional reappearances from the jazzy guitar riff. This moment effectively demonstrates an important Cassavettes quality: their songs encompass a degree of variety that keeps things interesting, even as they show an impressive consistency. Even the rowdy "Shine A Light" still fits the mold.
If you like the first cut, then it actually isn't going to change -- all of "It's Gonna Change" will satisfy. And it is not a stretch to predict that many will like that first taste and come back for more. (self-released)
Cassavettes' ex-Texans find home in Boston
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By Jay N. Miller July 6, 2007 Boston and its music fans are justifiably proud of their reputatio...By Jay N. Miller
July 6, 2007
Boston and its music fans are justifiably proud of their reputation as a haven for roots music, alternative country and country rock.
But has it gotten to the point where actual Texans are emigrating to Beantown to play? That’s the story behind The Cassavettes, who celebrate their second anniversary as a band-in-Boston with a show Saturday night at the Middle East Downstairs in Cambridge.
Singer/songwriter/guitarist Glenn Eric Yoder came to Boston to study journalism at Northeastern. He had a lengthy background in high school rock bands, and admittedly had little use for the country music that dominated his home state - until he realized he’d be leaving that region, and began to listen again.
At the same time Yoder was preparing to move to Massachusetts, he met another musician, Michael McCullagh, who was playing some very impressive guitar in a surf-rock band. Yoder recruited McCullagh to play some guitar on the high school rock band he fronted, one final CD before he left Texas.
Once ensconced at Northeastern, Yoder began playing solo shows, and met fellow roots-rock travelers like Kier Byrnes of Norwell, head honcho with Three Day Threshold. Yoder made a few preliminary stabs at starting a new band, but none worked out.
Then he started getting phone calls from home.
‘‘People wanted to get out of Texas, so I said sure, come on up,’’ Yoder said from his Somerville home. ‘‘I had met Mike for the first time, late in my senior year of high school, when he was playing in a surf-rock band much like Los Straitjackets. After he played on our high school band’s album, he had moved to Austin. But when we talked he really wanted a change, so I said sure, come up here. We began playing together and got some gigs.’’
That first gig by the Texas duo has assumed semi-legendary status in the re-telling. McCullagh was working by day in an Allston hardware store when the place hosted its ‘‘midnight madness’’ sale, and the owners asked him if he wanted to play. Thus, the first Cassavettes gig was a banjo/guitar duo gig before befuddled hardware customers looking for a bargain.
The joy of performing for that first $100 was leavened by the fact they were never actually paid.
Such detours aside, the duo got more good news from the Lone Star State, when bassist Scott Jones, who’d played with McCullagh in that surf-rock band, began asking about Boston.
‘‘Scott had dropped out of college, and had a good-paying job with a tax service,’’ Yoder said.
‘‘He had his own band, doing very well with him singing and playing guitar, instead of bass. But I guess the mysterious lure of a new city got to him, and we offered him a couple months rent-free to join us, and so we got him.’’
The three Texans found a drummer the new-fashioned way; they ran an ad on Craigslist. That led them to Maynard native Matt Snow, who was studying at Berklee School of Music.
‘‘Matt had no country style in his background at all,’’ Yoder said. ‘‘He was kind of a jam-band rocker who also liked heavy metal. But he is a fast learner and a fun guy to have around. He’s able to do so much we sometimes have to tell him to rein it in, take it easy, and just play a simple country two-step. But having him with us gives the Cassavettes an adventurous edge, because he’s a dynamo, and that’s exactly what we wanted.’’
The arrivals of Snow and Jones cemented the lineup, and that all occurred almost exactly two years ago, hence the budding ‘‘anniversary’’ show the quartet hopes becomes a tradition.
The final version of the band achieves some compelling sounds, which we likened to Counting Crows when we first heard them, or perhaps to the pop/twang offerings of The Mavericks. Byrnes calls them the perfect blending of Tom Petty-meets-Elvis Costello. Their first CD, ‘‘It’s Gonna Change,’’ was released in December, and has garnered admirable airplay on WFNX, among others. But with three songwriters, and four fairly disparate personalities, the band’s music is a constant blending process.
‘‘We used to collaborate more when we saw more of each other,’’ said Yoder, adding that McCullagh now lives in Chestnut Hill. ‘‘Now we tend to each bring in finished songs, and work them out with the band in practice.’’
Saturday’s celebration will include some of their musical pals and stylistic compadres, like Scituate’s Girls Guns and Glory, Jason Anderson and Three Day Threshold. Yoder points to Norwell banjo-master Byrnes as a prime example of why the roots music scene in Boston is so fertile and supportive of young bands.
‘‘Kier Byrnes is always doing things to help out young bands, whether it’s giving them opening slots or advising them, or just encouraging them,’’ said Yoder.
‘‘People like that make Boston a good town to play in.’’
A band called Cassavettes
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By Daniel Peleschuk June issue Someone once told me that the best shows around are the local one...By Daniel Peleschuk
Someone once told me that the best shows around are the local ones.
Up until May 25th, I had always taken that with a grain of salt. But by midnight that evening in Cambridge, Mass., as local favorites Cassavettes were roaring through the middle of their set, it became clear to me: it’s the hidden gems that always rock the hardest.
The Boston-based indie darlings, now approaching 2 years in the running as a full lineup, appeared that night as the headliners at T.T. the Bear’s in Cambridge, along with Logos Business Systems, Self-Righteous Brothers and The Appreciation Post.
Riding on the recent release of their first full-length album, It’s Gonna Change, the relatively young quartet re-energized the seemingly drowsy crowd in the half-empty venue, and kicked some life back into the room.
Cassavettes broke the ice with “You’ll Be Crying Soon” and “On The Lam,” and by the time they blasted into the chorus of their third song, “Carolyn Don’t Leave” – a crowd favorite – they had almost instantly won the affection of every kid in the room.
With three-quarters of the group hailing from Texas, the band seems to capitalize on its twangy Southern charm; every other song possesses an endearingly sweet quality that leaps into the listener’s chest and plants a little seed of country love.
Apart from their musical assets, the group features a few aesthetic values that boost their live performance. Among them, perhaps, is Glenn Yoder’s (Vocalist, Guitar/Piano player) gleeful grin peeking through his slightly disheveled muff-top hair, or Scott Jones’ (Bassist) playful interaction with the crowd.
The real crux of the show, however, was the crowd’s impeccably personal connection with the band; the audience members loved Cassavettes and Cassavettes loved them back. Every song brought with it at least 20 wildly dancing fans, pumping their fists at the band and screaming every other lyric, nearly drowning out the band’s own vocals.
By the end of their set, the band had finished something which they had only 40 minutes earlier created: an almost illegally entertaining local show that shed a glimmer of massive future potential.
A surprisingly fun piece of Roots-Rock confection
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Spring 2007 With an easy country shuffle It’s Gonna Change conjures up images of flannel shirts, ...Spring 2007
With an easy country shuffle It’s Gonna Change conjures up images of flannel shirts, jeans, and high-top sneakers with a anxious but hopeful youth kicking about abandoned grain silos littered with broken whiskey bottles and crumpled cans of beer. It is a roots rock album that pulls a page from the Mellencamp and Young songbooks focusing on the struggle to make ends meet and that twitchy state of boredom that marks those final steps out of the teenage years.
Cassavettes puts forth a solid if sometimes predictable performance with the songs following closely the verse-chorus format that has been the hallmark of AM and FM rock. “Lightning In A Bottle” hints at their live sound with it stretching out past the nine minute mark and featuring several tempo shifts. The halfway point sees the band step back, stretch, and relax into a languid swing that would fit just right under the stars on a humid August night. In contrast, “On Our Own”, one of those post high school graduation anthems, has the band nailing that multi-part vocal harmonies backed by a wheezy harmonica, and acoustic guitar. It is easy to slip into the foot stomping and remembering what it was like to dig under the car seats for just enough gas money to make it over the state line.
Overall, I found It’s Gonna Change to be a surprisingly fun piece of Roots-Rock confection. Nothing earth shattering, just solid music that for me had me reflecting on those summer days and nights just after high school when everything seemed possible and the struggles profound. You can read up on the band over at their website and stream some of the tracks from the album over at their Myspace page.
Cassavettes take the best of the old
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By Michael Potvin June 2007 issue Boston isn’t the town one thinks of when they consider alt- co...By Michael Potvin
June 2007 issue
Boston isn’t the town one thinks of when they consider alt- country, though, when the Texans came north, meeting the Massachusetts native, The Cassavettes were formed and Boston became an alt-country town. The Cassavettes consisting of Scott Jones (bass and backing vocal), Mike McCullagh (vox, guitar and lap steel), Matt Snow (drums and backing vocals) and Glenn Yoder (vocals, guitar, piano, banjo and harmonica) combine elements of the old and the new. Their sound draws together aspects of the old guard, a jangly country-pop sound taken from the Byrd’s combined with the rollicking country-rock of Dylan and The Band. This sound is complimented with elements familiar to newer, poppier bands, such as the Counting Crows and The Lemonheads, produces a sound that is both familiar yet new and inventive. The theme of mixing the old with the new carries over into their lyrics as well. Alice Cooper penned “I’m in the middle without any plans I’m a boy and I’m a man/ I’m eighteen”, while listening to the Cassavettes ”On Our Own” and ”Debts” I can’t help but see this dichotomy in their lyrics, stuck in the middle, old and new, “I’m a boy and I’m a man”(Cooper).
”On Our Own”, penned by Glenn Yoder, looks at the life of the eighteen year old stepping into the world, facing life and the challenges it presents. Musically, “On Our Own” is standing the ground between old and new. The harmonica harkens back to an older time while the rickety guitar jangle mixed with the lap steel incorporates the old and new. Sweet harmonies round the sound off and allow it to stand in today’s alt-country scene while having crossover appeal to the pop market.
Among everything else ”On Our Own” is a protest song, which incorporates themes from the 1960’s war time music and making it work for the state of the country today, “You're face down, fighting men without a face, without reason/Back home, the governor preaches no one has died in vain/You're 18 and on your own/18, and losing hope, yeah, you're on your own”. Here the Cassavettes make the connection between the Vietnam generation’s struggles and those being faced today in the wake of the war in Iraq. The narrator is caught between the war, his need to make a difference and the desire to return to a home that is no longer as he left it. Being lied to by the government, finding himself in the middle of a conflict he does not understand, scared as a child, yet still living as a man, supporting his family with drill pay. Again, Cooper wrote, “I’m eighteen I get confused everyday”.
In ”Debts”, the Cassavettes continue with the theme of growing older while still living a life better suited for the young and reckless. Mistakes of youth creating debt that will need to be paid back with interest, as one grows older and more mature. The narrator is feeling trapped by this life with no one to listen and no way out. Recognizing these youthful mistakes yet still being unable, or sure enough of oneself, to break free of this destructive life style;
We were standing on the edge of reason
17 and we were getting nowhere
Four o’clock and the streets were empty
We were unheard, so we
Tried to break into a car parked outside
Just to drive around and get our heads straight
But I was terrified and you were angry
I wish I could.
The chorus ties the theme of ”Debts” together beautifully. In the first chorus McCullagh and Yoder write, “My life needs arranging/ And I’m starting to feel old/ I’m not young anymore” The narrators life experience leads him away from innocence, while he is starting to feel old, he hasn’t yet left the life of a child yet. This point is re-enforced by the closing lines of the second and third chorus’ “My life needs arranging/ And I know I’m getting old/ And not moving on”. The debts incurred from a rebellious childhood still haunt the main character, removing the choice, and imprisoning him in a life he no longer wants to lead.
The Cassavettes are intertwined with the old and the new musically. They continue to draw influence from the lap-steel/ harmonica country-rock by which they were raised, furthermore, adopting jangly pop-rock made popular by their contemporaries in the alt-pop/ alt-country genres. The themes in Cassavettes lyrics further reinforce this by depicting characters that cannot find the strength, or path, to break free of the old, and embrace the new. The Cassavettes unlike their characters have found a way to take the best of the old country-fried-rock and infuse this with indie-pop melodies producing a new and exciting form of alt-alt-country.
Standard set time: 45-90 minutes, but can fill up to three hours.
Song selection: Primarily originals, with 33 recorded songs, but many more out-takes and covers
The Band- The Weight
The Band- The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down
Bob Dylan - I Shall Be Released
The Eagles- Take It Easy
The Eagles- Peaceful, Easy Feeling
Grand Funk Railroad - Some Kind of Wonderful
Grateful Dead- Touch of Grey
Grateful Dead- Sugar Magnolia
Morphine - French Fries with Pepper
Nada Surf- Blankest Year
Old 97s- Jagged
The Replacements - Alex Chilton
Superdrag- The Staggering Genius
Superdrag- Do the Vampire
Rolling Stones- Beast of Burden
Toadies- I Come From the Water
The Who- You Better, You Bet
The Who- Squeezebox
Neil Young- Cinnamon Girl
Neil Young- Out on the Weekend
Neil Young- Ohio
Neil Young- Heart of Gold
Neil Young- Harvest Moon
Neil Young- Walk On
Plus, any number of Beatles, Jayhawks, Lemonheads, Wilco, Willie Nelson, and Ryan Adams songs.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.