French Cassettes
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French Cassettes

San Francisco, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2007 | SELF

San Francisco, California, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2007
Band Rock Pop




"French Cassettes"

The French Cassettes is a band consisting of four multi-talented musicians: Mackenzie Bunch on guitar, keyboard and vocals, Thomas Huerta on bass and vocals, Scott Huerta on guitar and vocals, and Ben Isganitis on the drums. Although these four boys originated in Ripon, CA, today they are making a name for themselves at venues throughout the state. Over the past few years, we have been fortunate enough to appreciate the raw creativity and passion behind French Cassettes’ music through their successful singles, but their latest and greatest feat is the recent release of their EP, Summer Darling. This EP delivers a great sense of diversity as each band member brings something unique to the table. As a result, no two songs really sound the same. We can hear subtle hints of different genres throughout the tracks, be it pop, rock, or old school. Summer Darling is truly a reflection of the Bay Area’s constant collision of musical influences.

“Don’t be surprised when you feel your shoulders shaking and your hips bouncing to the swing of the music.”

The EP starts off beautifully with a song titled “Radley”. The listener is instantly overcome by a heavy relaxation that is conveyed through some simple strumming partnered with a catchy and consistent beat. This is followed by a more intricate melody that encompasses one’s complete attention. Shortly after we hear the vocals kick in that harmonize gloriously with the upbeat instrumentals. It’s not long until you find yourself bobbing your head along to words of Radley’s story.

Next is “Mouth Drum”. The bass here kicks off this track and makes for a sort of smooth funk sound that lingers for the entirety of the song. The vocals enter in on a high note that carries on with the overall solid beat of the number. This makes for a consistent sound, accompanied by a tranquil confidence that ignites every musical sensation in the body. Don’t be surprised when you feel your shoulders shaking and your hips bouncing to the swing of the music. It’s easy to imagine taking to the streets of San Francisco with the peace of this song to lead your strides. The track “Secrets Make Sounds” also delivers this smooth funk, but easily upscales “Mouth Drum” with its old-school feel. One might say it sounds like a modern twist of the Beach Boys mixed with a pop sound that builds a catchy tune.

“Little Shoes” further contributes to the variety of the album. Although the song is similar to the others with its laid-back yet catchy feel, it delivers a greater Indie Rock sound. The guitar signals the beginning of the song, setting up a fairly fast paced tempo that is comfortable in melody and balanced out by the beat of a steady drum. Unlike the previous tracks, the lead vocals are much more direct in delivery and stand out against the instrumentals. When listening to this song, one can experience a pure captivation from the sultry, alluring sound. Just picture yourself sitting atop a building or hill in the Presidio and let your mind wander because this song provides a sense of freedom and a sound of transcendence that can instantly spark the imagination.

The EP concludes with a song that is completely unique among the others. “I’m Green Today” is introduced by the exquisite sound of Brunch’s keyboard. The lyrics of this track have a stronger emotional impact on the listener, providing what feels like a deeper connection to the band. There is a beautiful raw sound to this track. We hear the keyboard, the violin, and the slow harmonies create a sound that can only be described as breathtaking. The advances of musical technology today have not tampered or tarnished the creativity of t his band. A message has been communicated: seek optimism and yearn to preserve through the roughest of times, though things may not seem perfect in the moment.

Summer Darling is just the right name for this EP. This album would make for a perfect soundtrack to a relaxing sunny day in Golden Gate Park while enjoying the company of friends. The variety of songs provides a joyous and appreciative setting that reminds the listener of ordinary summer memories.
- We Move Against The Tides

"Review: 'Summer Darling EP'"

The French Cassettes are definitely not the latest out of the indie-beach-pop-rock factory. Their music does not need to be smothered in reverb, the vocals are front-and-center, and every chord comes through. Yet it is fair to say they play some good indie-beach-pop-rock. Frontman Scott Huerta writes pop songs in the sense that they’re accessible and non-denominational (in the poppy sense). Though ‘summer’ is in the title of the album, it is descriptive, not prescriptive; ‘summer,’ ‘beach,’ or ‘surfing’ never appear in the lyrics or song titles. This gives the impression that Summer Darling was titled as an afterthought, as though the French Cassettes listened back to their record and realized that despite their efforts, their material got sun-tanned.

My obsession with summer may seem confusing upon listening to the album. I was surprised when I heard to the band again for the first time in two years at an Off the Air show. Back in the fall of 2007, a friend gave me two French Cassettes songs, and these are still on my computer, titled ‘Track 01' and ‘Track 02.’ The latter is an achievement of face-melting drum and bass interplay under an air of apocalypse and desperation. I don’t know what happened between then and now, though in a recent article, Scott Huerta said it was the decision to stop “trying to do something, and just [start] doing it.”

In deciding to just do it, the French Cassettes ended up with a set of strong (‘indie’) pop songs. “Radley” is the most addicting of the set: the chorus, which passes wordlessly the first time around, invites lyric-ignorant singalongs. I can only place Radley as a character from To Kill a Mockingbird, and I don’t know what he’s doing in this song, but damned if isn’t fun to sing his name. The lyrics are buoyed by the catchy-as-fuck major key vamps, and seem to be innocent tunes about pretty people. But like the 60's girl groups the rhythm section mimics, the lyrics tiptoe a fine line between poodle-skirt flirtations and R-rated back-and-forths. ”Secrets Make Sounds” is built around these did-he-or-didn’t-he entendres, as when Huerta sings “so just think about while you have your fun / teaching your rabbit to run.” This interplay is made concrete through the boy-girl harmony interlude: the two sing “with an old routine to cut my teeth / with or without you I’ll pick from the tree.” The sex seeps through on repeat listens, until there’s more erotics and infidelity floating around than in Newt Gingrich’s bedroom.

What the crop of indie-summer-pop bands miss about the original summer-pop music is what the French Cassettes get right. The drums shuffle and groove in 12/8. The bass competes with the guitar in the mix, and often it seems the latter is taking its cues from the former. It is this interplay that makes me wonder if the French Cassettes are one possibility of what Led Zeppelin would sound like if John Paul Jones was in charge. Led Zeppelin is not the best comparison, and it is more accurate to cite Cherry Peel-era of Montreal as a possible sound-a-like (see “Don’t Ask Me to Explain“).There are no clear synths in the songs: the arrangements are filled out through subtle harmonies, organ, piano, and strings. The result is a genuinely vintage sound that recalls the classics without remaining beholden to them.

- Also Frightened


Gold Youth (2013)

Summer Darling EP (2011)



From the small town of Ripon, CA, French Cassettes are a quartet that have the right idea. They have been turning heads at every show since they all met in high school in 2006. With an effective blend of influences they create indie pop tunes that will not only make you move, but have you humming the chorus the next day. Over the years they have been successfully making a name for themselves after relocating to San Francisco, CA only to claim such titles as 1st place in the Hayward Battle of the Bands, 1st Place in the Sacramento State Battle of the Bands and being 1 of 4 finalists in a national Myspace Battle of the Bands Contest beating out thousands of acts. After catching a live show from these guys you will see why they are quickly becoming a band you need to know.