It’s always important to get your year off to a good start when it comes to gigs and in 2017 our friends over at Beth Shalom Records brought a great triple-bill to the back room of Guildford’s Star pub. After stellar support from Dym and Brighton’s Fugazi-esque The New Tusk, Big Scary Monsters signings Cassels launched into a half-hour set full of riffs, important (and witty!) social observations and some seriously intense drumming.
The set kicked off with something altogether more subtle than the hook-driven sound we’re used to as band members Loz and Jim eased into the show. However, this quieter sound didn’t last and before long the duo had made a deliciously noisy racket while talking about nightmares and their prevailing effects on the human mind. This was followed by a song that seemed to tackle Brexit and the way society shafts the young head on as Jim talked about ‘old racist idiots’, the rising cost of rent and how hard it is to get out of debt. This was followed by recent 7″ single ‘Flock Analogy’, song bursting with clever stop-start moments and musings on the nature of fantasy. After this, the boys in the band had a discussion over which film Loz, the drummer, would be going to see following this weekender of a tour. We hope for his sake that he ignored the crowd’s suggestion of Passengers and went to A Monster Calls instead.
With Jim’s almost spoken-word and at times shoutier vocals, there’s a clear emphasis on the lyrics and themes that Cassels tackle and further songs in the set included one all about the NHS and how valuable it is to us and the quite frankly brilliantly titled ‘War is a Really Clever Metaphor for Divorce’ which has the defining statement ‘The children always blame themselves’ running throughout. Being signed to BSM, you know the band are going to have plenty of ideas running through every song and as they came towards the end of the all-too short set, they played debut EP title track ‘Hating is Easy’ (‘Loving is scary so I’ll just hate you, hating is easy’) complete with an effects-laden ending before finishing with ‘Cool Box’ – a song that combines thoughts about domestic abuse with Axes-esque guitar work.
Cassels are the kind of band we need right now. If they come to a venue near you, make sure you see them as they’re bound to be playing bigger places before long.