Me and Cassity- Appearances review   Leave a comment

Me and Cassity Appearances Tapete Records

“Darmstaedter is one of Germany’s underground pop heroes and the cofounder of the influential indie label Tapete Records” New York Times

Well, now I know at least that much. Prior to receiving Appearances in the mail last month, I had never heard of Dirk Darmstaedter, the German songwriter who is Me and Cassity.

Guess what? I quite like this album.

Like everyone else in the free world, I’ve had enough of songwriters coming up with cute monikers for their (mostly) solo projects. Iron & Wine. Bon Iver. Lake Forest. Folk Thief. Enough, already. Just call yourself what your mother named you.

So, Me and Cassity. Through the wonders of Google, I’ve learned that a) Darnstaedter was long ago in a pop group I missed called The Jeremy Days, b) Darnstaedter has been using the Me and Cassity name since 1998 which puts him in Jason Molina territory, c) there is more to Me and Cassity than Darnstaedter including a bassist, keyboard player, and a drummer, each with more consonants in their surname than the last, d) the album was recorded in both Hamburg and in Gothenburg, Sweden, and e) Darnstaedter says, “It’s a band album, so it’s a Me and Cassity album; Me and Cassity is just me when I’m in a band.” Now that that is clear.

Appearances is a glorious album. It sounds a bit like what a Clive Gregson album might sound like if he rediscovered power-pop. At 43 minutes and ten songs, the album is an ideal length- not so much that the brew is diluted, not so little that one is left wanting. The first time through, the album just washed over me, its mix of pop sensibilities and folk-songwriter effects and intimacy immediately embracing me.

“The Last Troubadour” struts along with all the confidence that empty pockets and a well-traveled guitar case can bring; harmonica serves as percussion and sweeping vocals from two Swedish lasses bring everything together. “Fred Astaire” is next up- another beautifully crafted number that owes as much to Ray Davies as it does Paul Weller and Edwyn Collins. “Time to Put the Hammer Down” is an angry song; although the target of its wrath is not entirely clear, one suspects it may be the singer’s own demons.

Over the past six or seven weeks, I’ve listened to Appearances a dozen or more times. Each listen has been enjoyable, and I’m continually discovering something new to appreciate within its fresh approach to pop-based, singer-songwriter sounds.

If I discovered this album unlabeled in a stack, I would be hard pressed to suggest the year of its recording: without sounding the least bit dated, it could have as easily been produced in 1987 as in 2012.

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