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The 50 Best Cassettes of 2013

By Kristen Yoonsoo Kim • December 02, 2013

From Perfect Pussy to Teenage Moods, more and more artists turned to tapes to put out new releases in 2013, bringing the retro format back in style. Here, we’ve rounded up the 50 best tapes of the year. Click around, then dig up your Walkman.

Musical styles and genres have always been ever-changing and recycled—an evolution that extends to the formats we use to listen to music. To most, the cassette tape may seem like an extinct vestige of the past, but it’s actually been making a silent resurgence in recent years. Despite very few people even owning a tape player, more and more artists have been putting out cassette tapes. And more labels have been dedicating themselves as cassette labels.

 

So, why cassettes? It can partly be attributed to the nostalgia factor, or that cassettes are, simply, sexy and affordable. They’re cheaper than vinyl and CD, and certainly better looking than the latter. For indie artists, especially, cassettes are far more cost effective to produce, making them ideal for DIY musicians. Plus, in a hyper-digital age, it’s nice to hear the click of a tape or a little bit of fuzz crackle during a song.

 

The return of the cassette just may prove to be revolutionary in the indie music world. Already this year, straight-to-cassette releases have been plentiful. Much has gone unnoticed, unfortunately—but that doesn’t mean they haven’t made noise.

 

Earlier this year, I rounded up my 25 favorite tapes of the year so far. Now, the list is complete, making 50 BEST TAPES OF 2013. From death pop to noise-punk, here are some tapes that’ll make you want to dig up your Walkman. Rewind time and press play.

50. NIGHT TERROR, NIGHT TERRORS

(Living Tapes)

OFFICIAL SITE

 

 

Chicago-based electronic musician Tyson Torstensen named his synth project Night Terror and then named his cassette Night Terrors, managing to nail it on the head both times with how his music actually sounds. Night Terror is, indeed, terrifying. But it’s also brilliant—in a way that madmen always seem to be geniuses. I bought this tape at a Night Terror show that I unknowingly walked into a couple months ago because that set literally gave me chills on the back of my thighs. This cassette is not easy listening, by all means, but if you’re like me and put on the Suspiria soundtrack before going to bed, then this is definitely for you.

 

Don’t miss: “Forever”

Find it here

49. BIRKWIN JERSEY, BETWEEN THE WEATHER AND THE SEA

(DZ Tapes)

MYSPACE // OFFICIAL

  

  

Birkwin Jersey is the experimental project of Brighton, U.K. musician Graeme Coop, who describes his music as “beat-driven folk collages.” I definitely hear it, as he travels through various soundscapes. Like its title, this tape sounds like it was made in nature, weathered by journeys and roads both traveled and untraveled. It’s both explorative and familiar, and Coop keeps it interesting all the way through.

  

Don’t miss: 

 


Find it here

48. THE CASKET GIRLS, “HOLDING YOU BACK” B/W “SUDDENLY”

(Graveface)

MYSPACE // OFFICIAL // TWITTER

  

  

Don’t you just love dreamy sororal bands? The Casket Girls are sisters Elsa and Phaedra Greene, who make pretty harmonies that weave into each other perfectly. They’re joined by guitarist Ryan Graveface (as in, Graveface Records), who stumbled upon these sisters in their hometown of Savannah, Georgia. Enamored by their singing, Graveface asked them to record a few songs and upon listening to the demos, he immediately started crying. So now the three are in a band together and this special Cassette Store Day release they’ve put out (on Sept. 7) is a real gem: light and poppy with undertones of eeriness.

  

Don’t miss: “Holding You Back”

Find it here

47. EVER ENDING KICKS, WEIRD PRIORITIES

(Holy Page) 

MYSPACE // OFFICIAL

  

  

Ever Ending Kicks is the brainchild of Paul Adam Benson, who makes weird pop music out of his small Washington hometown, Anacortes. Benson sounds a lot like fellow Washingtonian Phil Elvirum (of The Microphones and Mount Eerie) and sure enough, he used to be in Mount Eerie’s backing band. But listen to all of Weird Priorities and you’ll hear that Benson can get just as weird on his own, and does a damn good job of it. This 10-track cassette is a cool collection of minimal pop, with sparse synths and beats.

 

Don’t miss: “Outside Again”

Find it here (cassettes sold out)

46. SUR, DOG DAZE

(Mirror Universe)

OFFICIAL SITE

  

  

Sur’s Dog Daze is a dark and noisy album that borrows from hardcore and post-punk—utilizing the atmospheric textures of the latter to balance out the harsh noise—making this absolutely hypnotic to listen to. The band’s three members originally hail from South Carolina and D.C. but they currently plow away at their homebase of Austin, Tex., blowing out eardrums and stomping on pedals.

 

Don’t miss: “Shadow Puppet”

Find it here

 

45. RAS G, RAW FRUIT

(Leaving)

OFFICIAL

  

  

The hip-hop producer co-founded the label Poo-Bah and runs the L.A. streets as one of the hottest beatmakers. His music is a patchwork of genres, from African jazz to hip-hop to reggae and all sorts of other styles in between. According to Ras G himself, this tape is made up of “freestyle beats shit i make 2 smoke weed to that i never save, i just make em, record em, and on 2 the next one … RAW SHIT, no rules just … all out, fuck it […]” Oh, okay. Word?

 

Don’t miss: “Agaveman”

Find it here

44. GAYZE, BLACK SOUL

(Bleeding Gold)

OFFICIAL // TWITTER

  

 

Gayze is from Boise, Idaho, and they make scuzzy rock fit for garage jamming and basement shows. They like their vocals muffled and their shrieks buried under a blanket of reverb, all embraced in a fuzz so deep, they might as well be growing fungi. And heck yeah, I’m reveling in it.

  

Don’t miss: “All Night”

Find it here

 

43. SPAZZKID, DESIRE

(Purr Tapes)

MYSPACE // OFFICIAL // TWITTER

  

  

Is anime pop a thing? If so, that would be the perfect label for the latest project from Spazzkid. Spazzkid is the electronic project of L.A.-based musician Mark Redito, who takes sounds from J-pop and video games to construct his candy-coated beats. This is addictively sweet, but never sickening. Super kawaii!

  

Don’t miss:



  

Find it here (cassettes sold out)

42. LITTLE SPOON, I SEE

(Crash Symbols)

OFFICIAL // TWITTER

  

  

Little Spoon is Cameron Potter, from Boston, who makes glitchy dance pop. There’s a childlike innocence about this tape, even with lines like “I just want you to touch me, touch me.” All sorts of twinkly, shimmery instruments fall into place on this Little Spoon tape and it’s easy to hear why her music is self-described as “blankeywave/pillowpop.”

  

Don’t miss: “Touch Me”

Find it here (cassettes sold out)

41. FWY!, SAN CELEMENTE

(Moon Glyph)

MYSPACE // OFFICIAL

  

 

This tape landed in my hands with the description “slo-mo New Order” and I just had to listen to it. FWY! is the solo project of Edmund Xavier, from San Francisco, and it’s much more than just slo-mo New Order. It’s blissed-out, beat-driven utopia. There’s a sense of peace within this tape that’s absolutely mesmerizing. I. Cannot. Get. Enough. (That was a slo-mo Depeche Mode for ya.)

  

Don’t miss: “Marina Del Rey 6PM”

Find it here

40. SEABRIGHT, TOMORROW

(DZ Tapes)

MYSPACE // OFFICIAL // TWITTER

  

 

Seabright is the project of Justin Morales (from San Jose), who makes sun-kissed synthpop baked on a warm Californian beach. Tomorrow is bright and full of hope, made with pretty synth sounds that have never known the darkness. Mmm, it’s freezing in New York right now but I can almost—just ALMOST—feel the warmth of the summer sun. When it’s the first appropriate day for short shorts and popsicles, I know what I’ll be putting on: sunscreen and this.

 

Don’t miss: “Automate”

Find it here

 

39. JOVONTAES, ROLL THE DICE

(Burger) 

MYSPACE

  

 

Though Jovontaes is from Lexington, Ken., they sounds like they live right by the beach. Or maybe they live by a skate park. Tons of surfer/skater punk jams are packed into this cassette, and they roll out in Cramps-gone-DIY style. Oh wait, they literally have a song called “Can’t Surf.” They must hate being called “surf rock,” huh? Well, how else would you describe a tape like this? So many waves here, nothing to do but surf ’em. Sorry, dudes.

  

Don’t miss: “Know the Now”

Find it here

38. CHILDREN OF POP, FIESTA / DRIFT

(Chill Mega Chill)

MYSPACE // OFFICIAL // TWITTER

  

  

Like a fiesta for the ears, this tape from Houston band Children of Pop reminds me of warm summer days filled with piñatas and kids running through sprinklers. Then when the party’s over and the sun starts to set, drift into the Drift part of the album (the quieter second half of the split tape). Drift is the dreamy siesta to the fun Fiesta—for whatever mood you’re in.

  

Don’t miss:



Find it here

 

37. JONWAYNE, CASSETTE 3 (THE MARION MORRISON MIXTAPE)

(Stones Throw)

MYSPACE // OFFICIAL // TWITTER

  

  

I gotta be honest: I don’t listen to a lot of rap. But boy do I love Jonwayne. I think it was originally his choice of samples that got me hooked (see: “Passing Fancies”). The Marion Morrison Mixtape is the third and final release of his cassette trilogy (find Cassette 2 on this list as well) and it’s an exhilarating extension of the first two. Listen carefully and you might even catch a quick history lesson about the actual John Wayne.

  

Don’t miss: 



Find it here

 

36. SING LEAF, WATERY MOON

(Chill Mega Chill)

MYSPACE // OFFICIAL // TWITTER

  

 

The musical project of Canadian musician David Como draws on vast points of inspiration, from the future and space to the bottom of the ocean. Likewise, a lot of sounds define this album, and every track sounds unlike the one that precedes it. Sing Leaf likes his layers and he layers with perfection, even on the quieter, acoustic tracks. The Watery Moon tape is really quite lovely and one that’s better heard a few times over.

  

Don’t miss: “Keep Coming Up”



Find it here (cassettes sold out)

35. SHY MIRRORS, WRONG BOMB

(Mirror Universe)

MYSPACE // OFFICIAL // TWITTER

  


Shy Mirrors is the moniker of Mike Downey, a Chicago-based musician who’s channeled a lot of raw energy on his latest cassette. Wrong Bomb is part U.K. punk, part scuzzy ’90s indie rock (he does cite Superchunk as a huge influence) and most of all, all-around awesomeness. Downey seems down to get down and have a good time.

  

Don’t miss: “Tramming Up”

Find it here

34. POOLS, EVENTUAL HORIZON

(Holy Page)

OFFICIAL SITE

  

  

The cover of Eventual Horizon, by Baltimore’s Pools (the project of Robert Fronzo) features a very nice, somewhat nerdy-looking man, in glasses, a button-down shirt and a sweater. But then he says these five words on the tape’s opener: “Are you down to fuck?” With borderline sarcasm and dry delivery, Fronzo entertains these bedroom demos with manic pixie dream boy-ness. Sure, he’s probably DTF, but he’s probably also cool with just making out for a little bit while listening to Pavement.

  

Don’t miss: “MTV”

Find it here

33. MATT LEMAY, SINGLES

(Mirror Universe)

MYSPACE // OFFICIAL // TWITTER

  


If you’re familiar with Matt LeMay as a writer (he’s an incredible one at that), then the teenage soundtracks found on this tape seem out of place. Young and insecure is certainly not how I would label LeMay, but he wasn’t out to make grow-ass man music. This is music about being a teenager—with all the weird, misplaced feelings that come with being one—and it’s largely influenced by the music he loved and listened to then: Built to Spill, Archers of Loaf, Fountains of Wayne, etc. The tracks on this tape were recorded over the past few years but only compiled into a single Singles cassette this year, which Mirror Universe released.

  

Don’t miss: “A Portrait of the Man”

Find it here

32. INFINITY CRUSH, WHEN WE’RE SNOW

(Orchid)

OFFICIAL // TWITTER

  

  

“Oh, Caroline, nooooo” said Brian Wilson on The Beach Boys’ 1966 single. “Oh, Caroline, nooooo,” said I, now, while listening to Infinity Crush, because this girl Caroline White keeps breaking my heart. The acoustic bedroom pop project is that of White and bandmate Dan Cordero. A few weeks ago, I saw White sing and play viola with fellow Orchid Tapes band Julia Brown and that set literally made me cry. But with Infinity Crush, White sings with such gorgeous clarity and fragility that I’m sure it’s making even the angels weep. SWOON/TEARS.

  

Don’t miss: “Tiny Souls in My Eyelashes”

Find it here

31. CLIPD BEAKS, LOST OFFERINGS

(Moon Glyph)

MYSPACE // OFFICIAL // TWITTER

 

  

Oakland’s Clipd Beaks have been around for quite a while, but it’s with Lost Offerings that I’m listening to them for the first time. Building on atmospheric hollows and weighted moments of rollicking psychedelia, this music rises and falls, annihilates then creeps. It’s a heavy yet ambient listen.

  

Don’t miss: “Womb to Tomb”

Find it here

30. HOME ALONE, TEDDYBEARS & WEED

(Orchid)

OFFICIAL SITE

  

 

I saw Home Alone at an intimate rooftop showcase a couple months ago, going back and forth between his guitar and a joint, during a set that happened right around 4:20 in the afternoon. The dreamy music was perfect for lazy, cuddly weekend afternoons, so it’s only the most fitting that this tape is called Teddybears & Weed. With a band bio as simple as “music I make, blunts I smoke,” this Toronto one-man band, Thomas Mazurkiewicz, makes not stoner rock but stoner bedroom pop—soundtrack for passing idle suburban days too bored and too high out of your mind.

  

Don’t miss: “Sleep.Walk.In”

Find it here

 

29. LAME DRIVERS, UNLIMITED RIDE: LIVE & UNHEARD

(Mirror Universe)

MYSPACE // OFFICIAL // TWITTER

  

  

To be honest, I’m not really into live albums. But I had to buy this one immediately after seeing Lame Drivers live (which was simultaneously the first time I had ever heard of them). I think it was because they reminded me of some of my favorite bands (like Buzzcocks at times, and maybe a little bit like The Ramones) and also because they were so much fun. A band that gives out Now & Laters at their show is definitely all right in my book. But anyway, I may have just been converted on my feelings about live albums ‘cause this tape’s a cherished one in my collection.

  

Don’t miss:

 


Find it here

28. THE FLAG, “ALPHA 60 PUNCH OUT” B/W “NEIGHBORS”

(Godmode)

MYSPACE // OFFICIAL // TWITTER

  

  

The Flag is the solo project of New York-based musician Ted McGrath, and it’s a weird one at that. I love when I hear new music and the musical comparisons don’t come immediately. That’s the case with The Flag and maybe that’s why I find McGrath the most enigmatic member on the Godmode Records roster. With the vocals always slightly peculiar (manipulated?), the music is, at times, like spoken word and at other times tribal, or maybe even proto-goth. It’s oddly addictive… but enough about me trying to tell you what it is. Take a listen below.

  

Don’t miss: “Alpha 60 Punch Out”

Find it here

 

27. ELVIS DEPRESSEDLY, HOLO PLEASURES


(Orchid Tapes)

MYSPACE // OFFICIAL

 

 

The band is called Elvis Depressedly, for Pete’s sake. Expect some sad music. (Well, not too sad…) The South Carolina band led by Mat Cothran (of Coma Cinema) is gorgeously melancholy, made even more so by its lo-fi, candlelight quality. Many an idle summer day will be soundtracked by Holo Pleasures, I’m sure.


Don’t miss:

 


Find it here (cassettes sold out)

26. MEANEST MAN CONTEST, EVERYTHING WORTH MENTIONING

(Crash Symbols)

MYSPACE

  

 

This SF-based hip-hop/electronic duo has been around for an entire decade, but it wasn’t until this year that they followed up their 2003 lo-fi rap debut, Merit, with a sophomore full-length. Everything Worth Mentioning is not your average hip-hop. It almost sounds like Britpop meets hip-hop minus all the cheesiness that that may imply (depending how you feel about The Streets, I guess, though this is nothing like that anyway). This tape is funky and stylishly cool and the occasional raps come with an air of nonchalance.

  

Don’t miss: “Some People (Just Get Off on Breaking Hearts)”

Find it here

 

25. MOTION STUDIES, “MATTER OF TIME” B/W “EVEN IF”

(Godmode)

MYSPACE // OFFICIAL // TWITTER

  

  

You know when you walk into a club and everyone stops to look your way as they make way for you on the dance floor? Yeah, me neither, but in my head this is the music that soundtracks that moment. Motion Studies is Tyler McCauley: a pretty cool guy who makes even cooler music. Not only is he one of the more recent signees on Godmode Records, but he’s also one of the most interesting additions, as he bends rules on a label once solely associated with heavier music (grunge, punk, that sort). Motion Studies is disco, house and retro dance pop rolled into one fun guy who really likes wearing Hawaiian shirts. Dang, he needs to put out a full-length STAT. ‘Til then, this cassingle will do.

  

Don’t miss:



Find it here

24. AUDACITY, BUTTER KNIFE

(Burger/Suicide Squeeze)

MYSPACE // OFFICIAL // TWITTER

 
 

  

Word on the street is Audacity are hella fun to kick it with, and this tape sounds like one made for those wild, parents-are-out-of-town house parties where the beer flows a little too liberally and attendees show up in a flurry of flannel. The Fullerton, Calif. band's latest record runs high on adrenaline and I’m getting tons of jitters listening to it, but only the good kind.

  

Don’t miss: “Couldn’t Hold a Candle”

Find it here

23. JONWAYNE, CASSETTE 2

(Stones Throw)

MYSPACE // OFFICIAL // TWITTER

  

  

Rapper Jonwayne got into a little bit of trouble last year for releasing a cassette—called Cassette—that looked just like a pack of Marlboros. So this year, with Cassette 2, he came back with a design that, err, doesn’t remind us of anything…? Eep, Fuck the Man, I guess? It’s rare that rap music gets put out on cassette but it’s even rarer that a cassette release isn’t accompanied by MP3, CD or vinyl on the side. But that’s how Jonwayne rolls. The MC is loyal to his medium, so pick ’em up while they’re still available (or, well, still legal). On “Passing Fancies,” Jonwayne raps over a sample of some romantic, cinematic soundtrack and it is absolutely amazing. Dude loves movies, he can’t even deny.

  

Don’t miss: “Passing Fancies”

Find it here

22. MOON JELLY, S/T

(Bleeding Gold)

MYSPACE // OFFICIAL // TWITTER

  

  

Upon first listen, Moon Jelly immediately strikes a strong Kate Bush vibe. At times, it channels Siouxsie Sioux too, but minus the heavy eyebrows. Both these comments are super high praises for singer Anna, by the way, who’s got some incredible pipes to boast. But enough about Anna. Tim and Brian are in this band too and damn can they sweep those synths like it’s nobody’s business. This self-titled release is the debut for the Orlando, Florida-based trio and it’s a stellar one at that. (Discovered via c86d.com.)

  

Don’t miss:

 


Find it here

21. COURTSHIP RITUAL, “WILD LIKE US” B/W “BIESENBACH ON THE BEACH (KLAUS)”

(Godmode)

MYSPACE // OFFICIAL // TWITTER

  

  

This is my favorite cassingle of the year because you get the sweet “Wild Like Us” on the A-side, for your lazy, hazy and shoegazy fix, and then you flip it over and singer Monica Salazar abandons sweet for sultry in a haunting track that ironically inspires a few giggles from its title. (The Brooklyn duo—Basque and Salazar—quite literally named the song after spotting MoMA PS1 director Klaus Biesenbach on the beach.) The “grey fox” she sings about here is, of course, Biesenbach himself.

  

Don’t miss: 

 


Find it here

 

20. PILL FRIENDS, BLESSED SUFFERING

(Birdtapes)

OFFICIAL SITE

  

  

Upon first listen, I remember thinking, ‘This is such a cute tape! Reminds me of growing up in the suburbs!’ and then I started paying attention to the lyrics and they were about, like, Satan and slitting your dog’s throat and stuff and it scared the shit out of me. But then also, this is so good? So now I’m torn. Anyway, Pill Friends are from Pennsylvania and they call themselves “death pop,” which is true—they sing about death a lot and there’s a darkness that surrounds this album. It brushes close to some emo music I grew up listening to—especially lyrically—but melodically this is so much better. Anyway, this is some sick shit (in more ways than one).

  

Don’t miss: “Wearing My Dead Dog’s Skin”

Find it here

19. FOG LAKE, HOLY CROSS

(Birdtapes)

OFFICIAL SITE

  

  

I bought this tape on a whim a few months ago because I was told that it was made by a “sad Scandinavian teenager in a basement” and honestly there’s nothing better than music made by a sad Scandinavian teenager in a basement. Turns out I misheard because this one man band (Aaron Powell) is actually Canadian and heck, I don’t even know if he is a teen, but none of that matters so much as how lovely this record is. Holy Cross is enveloped in lo-fi melancholy with sweet tinkering of the synths and acoustic guitar. The words “too young to understand what always makes you sad” is a sentiment that resonates with me. This is a perfect cassette to pop into the tape deck on a solitary morning.

  

Don’t miss: “Despondency”

Find it here

 

18. COUSINS, BATHHOUSE

(Bridgetown)

OFFICIAL SITE

  

  

Though Cousins submerge themselves under layers of reverb and probably do a whole lot of gazing at shoes, the Milwaukee band’s latest full-length breathes confidence, as they ambitiously aim for—and accomplish—a full sound. The singer’s vocal range dabbles in the Ian Curtis zone, naturally inflicting gloom and doom, but there’s a light bounciness that shines through. Also: was that “boys don’t cry” line a nod to Mr. Robert Smith?

  

Don’t miss: “Family Photos”

Find it here

 

17. NIGHT BEATS, SONIC BLOOM

(Burger/Austin Psych Fest)

MYSPACE // OFFICIAL

  

  

Sonic Bloom is an acid trip of a tape. Combining psych rock sounds with garage and surf, Seattle’s Night Beats have made a sophomore album both gritty and groovy. It’s one that encompasses several eras of music, with spastic guitar trips weaving in and out of a haze of reverb and feedback. It’s filthy-chill and totally fun to listen to.

  

Don’t miss: 

 


 

Find it here

16. POOL HOLOGRAPH, S/T

(DZ Tapes)

MYSPACE // OFFICIAL

 
 

  

Started by singer/guitarist Wyatt Grant as a solo act, the Chicago-based band grew into a trio, with the addition of Zachary Stuckmann (bass) and Josh Rodin (drums). Together, they make jangly, bouncy, explosive indie rock, which is sometimes confronted with dark basslines. Whatever you want to call this, it is insanely catchy.

  

Don’t miss: 

 


Find it here (cassettes sold out)

 

15. ERROS MÁGICOS, SHAMBHALA

(Moon Glyph)

OFFICIAL SITE

  

  

Taking its album name from a Buddhist kingdom, Jason Edmonds—who’s collected eight musicians for his debut tape—recorded an EP full of lovely jangly pop inspired by places all over the world. A little bit of Portuguese here, a little bit of Oriental culture there, you’d never guess this guy was from Minneapolis. Best of all is “C’est Tout Noir,” which calls to mind ’60s French pop but with distant flutes and a jam section that, again, travels to somewhere foreign and magical.

  

Don’t miss: “C’est Tout Noir”

Find it here

 

14. JULIA BROWN, TO BE CLOSE TO YOU

(Birdtapes)



OFFICIAL

 

 

Lo-fi indie pop really should be heard on a cassette. Julia Brown’s To Be Close to You was made for cassettes—like, literally, it was recorded directly to tape. Julia Brown is not one singer but actually a full band, led by Sam Ray (of now defunct Teen Suicide, from Maryland). The beautiful moments on this tape are the imperfect, human aspects of it, like being able to hear Ray talk to his bandmates before going into song or an accidental snag here and there, as if we’re actually sitting in the practice room with them. The tape was a long time in the making, and the product is an intimate invitation into Ray’s somewhat muddled but perfectly honest mind.

  

Don’t miss: “I Will Do This for the Rest of My Life”

Find it here

13. SLEEPIES, More Humans

(Godmode)

MYSPACE // OFFICIAL // TWITTER

  

 

“Kristen, what’s your favorite band in Brooklyn right now?” people often ask me (not really, but let me entertain that thought for a sec). “Why, friend,” I reply, “That would be Sleepies.” But seriously—this grunge punk trio is my favorite local band and their 2012 LP Weird Wild World is my favorite record from last year. This EP cassette is a sweet fuckin’ treat as they prepare a full-length follow-up (I mean, I didn’t ask, but I’m assuming), complete with a very cool PIL cover (“Annalisa”). Thomas, Josh and Max are unstoppable and if you live in the area and haven’t yet attended one of their DIY shows, getting pushed in the crowd while screaming, “GET FUCKED AND OTHER SUGGESTIONS!!!!” then I don’t know what you’ve been doing with your life.

  

Don’t miss: 

 


Find it here

 

12. R.L. KELLY, LIFE’S A BUMMER

(Orchid)

OFFICIAL

  

 

A purchase of this cassette via Orchid promises to come with “stickers, pins, sad feelings, happy feelings, etc.” Feelings. There are so many feelings in this cassette. At the very least, the name R.L. Kelly and the title Life’s a Bummer evoke amusement. But delve into the music and you’ll find that R.L. Kelly (Rachel Levy) is colored with moods. This is bedroom pop at its best and Levy’s sad girl vibes seem totally relatable.

  

Don’t miss: “You’re Not the Only Monster from Hell”

Find it here

11. BEAT DETECTIVES, CASUAL ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND

(Moon Glyph)

OFFICIAL

  

  

This Minneapolis/New York-based trio is as mysterious as its band name. Beat Detectives recorded their songs on a 4-track, and their debut release on Moon Glyph is 19 songs crammed onto a single cassette, all with bizarre, spacey beats. It’s dance party music for weirdos and hell yes I want an invitation to that party. The tape manages to totally captivate while remaining enigmatic, its lyrics more or less indecipherable. The band describes this cassette “less Ibiza, more Nissan Ultima”—not really sure what that means but I’m sold.

  

Don’t miss: “Deep Web”

Find it here

 

10. BOY FRIEND, SECRET CITY EP

(Night-People)

OFFICIAL

 
 


Boy Friend is magic, no tricks about it. The Austin-based trio gets witchy—not witch house, God forbid—with climactic synths that are almost cinematic and beats that cut through dense atmospheres of darkwave. “Chills run down my spine,” they sing. But chills are running down my spine. I’m totally, completely, absolutely enchanted.

  

Don’t Miss: “Labyrinth”

Find it here

 

9. PERFECT PUSSY, I HAVE LOST ALL DESIRE FOR FEELING

(Self-Released)

OFFICIAL SITE

  

  

Ah shit, I’ve done it again—googled “Perfect Pussy” only to be terrified on the Internet again (I’ve learned nothing from the first however many times I’ve done this). Coming at you in the style of uninhibited, musical Tourette’s is this Syracuse band’s demo tape, which immediately wins best album title of the year: I have lost all desire for feeling. Literal same. The four tracks on this cassette are simply titled in Roman numerals in ascending order, and each one is a noise-punk assault of manic dizziness. It’s hard to make out what singer Meredith Graves is saying but lyrics on their Bandcamp reveal some harsh truths.

  

Don’t miss: “I”

Find it here

8. ALAN WATTS, ARA

(Godmode)

MYSPACE // OFFICIAL

  

 

It’s impossible not to be mesmerized when watching Brooklyn trio Alan Watts play live. Three dudes plowing away at their instruments, letting you become part of their ritualistic circle on your own accord rather than pleading you to watch a performance. You just can’t help but want to be one with them. I’ve never seen Alan Watts play on an actual stage before and it always feels like a spectacle beyond just your average rock show. I’m always left speechless, with actual chills on my body. Ara sounds like dance music for those who like to dabble on the dark side—super bizarre but fun all the same.

  

Don’t miss: “Bogoditus”

Find it here

7. NO PAWS, HEALTHY MEN

(Bridgetown)

OFFICIAL

  

  

No Paws is the perfect marriage of new wave and bedroom pop. The charming little album from the Californian band is one of the dreamiest releases of the year, enveloped in sweet synth lines and hazy vocals. Ooh, and it’s drenched in reverb, dripping in heavenly goodness. This is New Order frolicking in fields of flowers and Robert Smith’s lipstick and The Smiths without the massive ego of Morrissey. In other words, it’s absolutely perfect.

 
 

Don’t miss: “Lacerate Wildly”

Find it here (cassettes sold out)

 

6. SHAKIN’ BABIES, STOKED CASUAL

(MJMJ)

OFFICIAL SITE

  

 

Get out your leather jacket and favorite ’60s print dress. Shakin’ Babies are here to shake things up, with super cute doo-wop-influenced garage rock. I absolutely adore this tape. Imagine if all the fabulous beehive-haired ladies of the yesteryears—The Ronettes, Shirelles, Crystals—got together and decided to kick some serious ass. They’d sound like this Minneapolis five-piece. I’m stoked more than casual about Stoked Casual—and you should be too.

  

Don’t miss: “Katrina”

Find it here

 

5. THEE TSUNAMIS, A GOODBAD MAN IS HARD TO FIND

(Magnetic South)

OFFICIAL SITE

  

  

Singer Betsy Shepherd shrieks with such sting and intensity that for a second you think, that’s Bikini Kill-era Kathleen Hanna on vocals. But the Bloomington trio plays surf rock-inspired melodies to counter Shepherd’s yelps, making an irresistibly lethal combination. On their debut release, Thee Tsunamis zip through their songs in a flight of fury. This is a band that’s out to swallow you whole. And I’m happy to let them.

 

Don’t miss: “Way Out West”

Find it here

 

4. TEENAGE MOODS, BEST ‘TUDES

(MJMJ)

OFFICIAL SITE

 

  

This pop-punk dual cassette set from Minneapolis’ Teenage Moods will have you doodling <3 hearts <3 and your crush’s name in your composition notebook for hours. Actual teenage moods are funny. One minute everything is hilarious and you’re cackling with your BFFs and then the next, you’re pissed off at the world. Best ‘Tudes sounds like, as its name suggests, the best of those teenage ‘tudes—like feeling young and invincible despite the awkward growing pains. Everything is uncertain and you’ve got nothing figured out, but the ride there is just too fun, so why hop off now?

  

Don’t miss: “Grow”

Find it here

3. FASANO, THE BARN


(Godmode)

OFFICIAL // TWITTER

  

  

The New York-based singer-songwriter Matty Fasano released his debut full-length as a cassette on Godmode Records earlier this year under his eponymous musical moniker. The eight tracks on The Barn revel in sweet acoustics, soft percussions and the occasional oohs and aahs. It’s absolutely perfect and just the kind of tape I’d want my crush to make for me. (It would be love at first listen!) Fasano does a lovely job evoking emotion without overthinking things, and knows when to leave empty space. It’s beautifully minimal and oh gosh, okay, I’ll stop gushing!


Don’t miss: 

  


Find it here

  

2. PRIESTS, TAPE TWO

(Sister Polygon)

OFFICIAL SITE

  

  

D.C. punk foursome Priests is one of the most exciting new acts right now. You may know frontwoman Katie Alice Greer from Chain and the Gang, in which she sings and bops alongside the eccentric Ian Svenonius, but it’s as singer of Priests that she truly shines. With Greer’s angry snarls and riot grrrl yelps, this is a band that’ll get you so pumped and angsty and just, like, batshit crazy that it’ll make you want to throw shit against the wall—literally—and pour beer on yourself (why? I don’t know but just go with it).

  

Don’t miss: “Leave Me Alone”

Find it here (tour release)

1. YVETTE, PROCESS

(Godmode)

MYSPACE // OFFICIAL // TWITTER

  

  

Ta-dah! Well, this is no surprise. I’ve been screaming about the fact that this is my favorite album of the year since its release a month ago, so OBVIOUSLY it’s also my favorite cassette. Sometimes I worry YVETTE is creeped out by me because I can’t stop talking about them and they toooootally know. But I can’t help myself; this tape is just so goddamn good. Process is a totally in-your-face, take-no-prisoners kind of noise-punk record that surprises you with sensitive and melodic moments (kind of like how beating the shit out of a sheet of metal can sound pretty). Best part is, every listen is a new trip, where you pick up on the different sounds that went into the process (ha) of recording this. Plus, the tape was hand-stamped and hand-packaged by frontman Noah Kardos-Fein himself, so it’s extra special. Don’t sleep on this one. Or anything from Godmode Records, really.

  

Don’t miss:

 


Find it here

 

 

Previously: The 25 Best Cassettes of 2013 (So Far)

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