Review Summary: Debut album of the band spawned by Northstar, Cassino show everyone how soft rock music should be done with enviable musicianship.
Made up of the two dominant forces of defunct band Northstar, Nick Torres and Tyler Odom, Cassino brings a much smoother and mature sound than the former band could have. It's the natural progression that they took, and probably couldn't do with Northstar. Where their previous band was driven more by harder guitar riffs and chivalrous rock, Cassino's obvious country and folk reference's shine through in their songs. Having followed this project since the original demos of 2005, it's a great feeling to be able to review this album, self-released by the band.
Immediately noticeable is the softness that flows elegantly throughout the first few songs. Each song manages to retain some originality and easily noticeable parts about them, while drifting peacefully into the next song without the listener noticing. However, this may be down the fact that the instruments in this album are very minimal. Driven by mainly acoustic and vocals, there are subtle hints of electric guitar melodies and soft drum fills that add nicely to the songs. "American Low" is a great example of this. The two acoustic guitars, one being picked softly while a rhythm guitar strums gently behind it, is enough to make this song distinguishable. But there are occasional tiny licks from an electric guitar, which really bring out the acoustic in the sections they drive on. "Tin Man's Throne" is a song in similar taste, emphasizing more on the picked style of the acoustic than anything else. In the background in the chorus, a snare drum steadily chugs along with the pace of the guitar. It doesn't get louder or faster, but it adds that little bit of difference that makes the song stand out. "Lolita" feels incredibly poppy without taking too much away, with a great piano melody in the background and a build-up throughout the song adding a more dominant electric guitar lick and much louder drum beats.
The album luckily isn't just made up of these style of songs though. "New Jerusalem" is one of the best tracks on the album, immediately jumping into a folkish song with more rugged vocals than most of the songs on the album. A vast array of slowly-paced drum fills, sweet strummed guitars and even a horn section make this an impressive addition to the album, maybe even a necessity to the listener as to change it up. "The Gin War", undoubtedly my favourite of the demos, has been spruced up and converted into a grand and more rockier song without crossing too far into the old Northstar style. It feels like the bridge between the two bands, which is very much a good thing to me. Faster drumming with almost desperate-sounding vocals mix well with the dark, picked acoustic and sweeping clean guitar licks. The musicianship of the entire album is definitely very impressive, with a good mixture of styles in the acoustics, the instruments used to bring them out me, and even how they are played. "Dust West Flying" is a very basic 3 minute instrumental made up of mostly a haunting and expressive organ style and strummed acoustic. And yet, it builds up fantastically and feels powerful without being complicated for the sake of an instrumental.
Sounds Of Salvation
is definitely a very relaxing and simple album, but in the same scope it can feel incredibly epic. The vocals aren't too polished and refined, but the songwriting is where Cassino ascend, and it's proven with this album. Such a huge selection of styles and elements are played in a rather small amount of songs, and not once does it feel preciousness or overwhelming. It just feels natural. The guitar work is certainly impressive, with some fantastic picked melodies and small licks that add lots of a song. None of the album sounds forced or regurgitated from other bands or acoustic projects at the moment. It's elegant from start to finish, finely produced considering it was done by the band themselves, and feels very refreshing to listen to.