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Cassettes won't listen,
but you should

Cassettes Won't Listen - Small-Time Machine
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Jan. 28, 2008
Cassettes Won't Listen

Review by Tony Bonyata

Clocking in at thirty minutes and seven songs in all, Cassettes Won't Listen's forthcoming release, Small-Time Machine, is actually more than a standard EP, yet it's also just shy of a bona-fide full-length LP. But considering that each one of these numbers is a celebration of positively-charged pop led by melodic keys and swirling electronica, the overall length doesn't really matter much - other than, by the end, it only leaves you wanting more, which I guess makes this a really extended 'Extended Play.'

Cassettes Won't Listen is actually just a one-man band. Brooklyn-based musician and producer Jason Drake has been self-releasing a number of EPs under this moniker over the last few years as digital-only releases (most notably his One Alternative EP in December '07, which he offered as a free download and featured his own creative interpretations of '90s stalwarts like Pavement, Liz Phair and Blind Melon). Unlike a band of Radiohead's stature, however (who, after years of label support and promotion, just self-released their last In Rainbows for any price fans were willing to pay), Cassettes Won't Listen's build has been more of a grass-roots affair - one fueled by a resounded love from online music bloggers throughout the last year and is now starting to gain recognition from the likes of MTV, Billboard and Spin.

After listening to Drake's latest effort it's no wonder that so many have been smitten by his music. Songs such as the beat-box driven "Large Radio" finds Drake coolly delivering his vocals over a synthetic '80s wall-of-sound, sans the smothering cheese of that decade. The opening track "Metronomes" merrily percolates and shuffles, while the more introspective "Paper Float" extracts the beauty from Kraftwerk's Computer World and melds in twee indie-rock sensibilities.

While both Drake's airy, soothing vocals and production gives a warm touch to the ensuing electronica arrangements, it's actually the songs themselves (filled with strong melodies and memorable pop hooks) that makes Small-Time Machine so big-time enjoyable.

Watch Cassettes Won't Listen - "Large Radio"

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