When Cheap Cassettes first appeared on the power pop scene with their ‘All Anxious All The Time’ album, they didn’t really sound ready to be appreciated by the world at large. The demo quality recordings had spirit, but the song writing wasn’t great, and the overall package lacked the necessary hooks to make it memorable. A few of years on, the ‘See Her In Action’ EP was a massive improvement on every level. The short collection of songs provided riff after riff of classic retro sounds; the choruses were big and – overall – Cheap Cassettes’ quick and cheap approach to recording showed a massive confidence. For lovers of middle period Replacements, Boston heroes Watts and The Dirty Truckers, the Cheapos were now pretty much guaranteed to bring a thrill or six.
Manchester rockers SINKR make no secret of their love of 80s and 90s alternative rock. Those who broke into the mainstream are obvious touchstones for the band’s core sound, but listeners who immersed themselves more deeply into the indie rock scenes of the era will certainly hear a couple more melodic influences cutting through their debut recording – intentional or otherwise.
Formed by ex-members of San Antonio bands Muscle Car and The Debasers, The Walk Offs are a retro sounding rock band, heavy on the bar-room sound. Following on from their 2019 EP ‘Jump In The Front Row’, ‘Sorry For Nothing’ cements their commitment to blue collar rock with six songs that fall somewhere between Nat Freedberg’s finest tunes and The Replacements in a nonchalant mood. It isn’t edgy, but in terms of delivering a succession of old school riffs and solos, it’s the kind of release that’ll score highly with fans of the style.
Over the couple of years before the global pandemic forced everything into lockdown, UK blues rock band Big River found their profile steadily rising. The release of their debut album ‘Redemption’ showcased a band who were much better than their early singles – all huge riffs and overtly macho lyrics suggested – when mixing their grittier elements with a few more AOR-centric rockers and a couple of soulful rock ballads.
Back in 2019, The Morning Line released their third album ‘North’. With its retro sound calling back to some of the 90s college rock greats, it was easy to draw parallels with the album’s best material and past classics by Buffalo Tom, Soul Asylum and Third Eye Blind. It became one of that year’s best DIY releases and gained praise from all seventeen people that actually heard it. A follow up single ‘Back On Earth’ appeared at the beginning of 2021, and although it showed off a more sedate side to the band with hints of ‘Behind The Sun’ era R.E.M. at its core, the same retro charms were more than present, cementing Stephen Smith’s reputation as a fine songwriter.