January 4th, 2010

Review Date
: January 4th, 2010

Reviewed By:
Not Yet Rated

'Djom' and 'The Levee'

Cassino is a two-man southern folk/pop/rock band consisting of two friends, Edward Puckett and Nick Torres. Torres is the mastermind that wrote composed, sang, and played guitar for the early 2000's seminal emo/punk band, Northstar. After the sudden demise of Northstar following the release of their wonderfully received full-length, Pollyanna, lots of fans wondered what was next if anything at all.

Fortunately for us, we were treated to an amazing 4 song demo from this new band, Cassino. Those demos turned into the immaculately produced and crafted 2007 release, Sounds of Salvation, which made my 'Best of' for that year and is the perfect summer album. Cassino never really toured off of it but I feel it could have been huge. Fame might not have been what they were going for however, and that trend has carried forth on Kingprince. After two years of silence, fans were once again wondering what happened to Cassino.

It turns out they locked themselves in an apartment and recorded this album entirely by themselves. Gone is the perfection of recording and radio-ready hits of Sounds of Salvation. What we have here is a more natural, laid back, southern tinged effort (recording quality is still great though). Being from Alabama, their roots show through and for some it's not a welcome addition...for me, it's more wonderful Cassino songs. And I'll take those any way I can get them.

The album starts off with my overall favorite tune, 'Djom'. It's rhythmic, atmospheric, simple, and sets the stage for the new direction of the songs. It's carefully crafted and I love the intro of harmonica and sustained guitar. When the kick drum finally punches into the climax of the song, I was sold on the new format the songs have taken. The feeling of the South permeates through these songs. All I think of is sitting on the front porch during a summer storm drinking beer and talking with loved ones. It's simply simple feel good music whether you like acoustic country or not. It's timeless.

Lyrics have always been one of the high points of the work Nick Torres has done. I'd say its closer to poetry than just song lyrics. I can sit and just read the lyric booklet over and over. The lyrics have more or less always been creative analogies to sex in previous records, but that has been toned down some in this release. It was never over the top, but if you listened you knew what it was about. Again, this album is a return to simple, classic, country songs with a pop tinge. The title track 'Kingprince' follows the intro with this same formula.

'This Chevrolet is done. It's sunk into the ground. Chromes become my dining couch, the ornament on a broken house. And the weathers come alive and it's leaking inside. Knocked the breakers paralyzed and turned my savings on its side. It's taken so many other lives with it's wild ways. So my mother says. Heaven found on my way out...I took a walk one way.'

I love the simple and picturesque nature the lyrics always take.

The only negative that can possibly be displayed on this album is that songs that were perfected on Sounds of Salvation have been re-recorded. 'Boomerang', one of my personal favorites, 'The Gin War', and 'The Ice Factory.' I think it is just to translate some of their favorite songs into the new style, which is fine, but I would have preferred new songs altogether.

Kingprince is a coming of age album from two southern men hailing from emo and punk backgrounds. Beginning with out of tune guitars and vocals on the first Northstar record to this is pretty exciting to see and hear. Beautiful synchronized finger picking, organs, slide guitar, harmonica, fiddles are now the rule of the day and it's a nice trip to the South without actually having to go there. It's a perfect album to sit and follow along lyrically, or let it play in the background of conversation, drinking, love (this is probably as they always intended it) or just through daily chores. Once again, did I mention they recorded this themselves? Absolutely everything. It's so refreshing to hear such an original and careful crafting of songs done so professionally...while being recorded in an apartment. Sadly, this is the reason beautiful big name studios like Smart Studios have to close their doors. It's nice to see music can still be recorded simply by musicians though, and not sound like shit. Cassino might intentionally be avoiding the mainstream, but I will happily follow them wherever they go.




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