The two elements that comprise salt, sodium (Na) and chlorine (Cl) are considered two of the most volatile in the periodic table. When they combine to form salt, instead of creating another unpredictable ion, they become one of the most versatile, stable compounds. Salt is used as a flavoring in food, as well as a preservative. Salt is an integral part of the ocean, but as many will tell you, saltwater depletes the human body of essentials even as it is beneficial to the earth herself. This great mass of ocean that engulfs the earth can often also be a source of great trauma, certainly as witnessed in New Orleans in September 2005. "This city is a bad lover/ To quick and inattentive/ Let's sink this city and build ourselves / Over" sings Beth Cameron in the first single "The Catch" off their upcoming Theory 8 Records release Salt. An attack of sorts on FEMA's response to New Orleans, "The Catch," says Beth "is just about cities/towns and how we form relationships with them and when a city doesn't come through like we feel it should have we crucify it." A city is "home," but it can quickly turn into the place from where we feel like we have to run. The Nashville, TN based three-piece band certainly understands this relationship. The two other members in Forget Cassettes, drummer Aaron Ford and multi-instrumentalist Jay Leo Phillips, hail from other Southern states, but have called the Nashville area home for years. Originally forming a few years ago as a two-piece with Doni Schroader, who left to drum for ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, Beth invited Aaron and Jay to play in a new (and certainly improved) version of Forget Cassettes last year, playing their first show as a trio in June 2005. "I pretty much agreed on the spot," says Ford, of Beth's invitation, having briefly played with her years ago in Fair Verona.
It is quite clear from watching their live shows that these three have a volatile chemistry together. One has to wonder if a chemical reaction involving three elements has to be more explosive than two, and if there is a chemical law explaining this, Forget Cassettes is visual and aural proof. Gone are the deceivingly simple arrangements that made the band well known in the indie-rock scene, not that the quick turns of tempo were ever basic. It is only a combination of guitar, drums, and keyboards that seems to have specific limits. Forget Cassettes, however, proves that small stature does not mean small sound. No one could ever accuse this band of avoiding musical complexity. The songs on Salt, to borrow a cliche have taken the sound of Forget Cassettes to another level. Whatever Forget Cassettes did on Instruments of Action to cause the ruckus they received (playing at CMJ, achieving Top 100 status on the CMJ charts, touring the country, opening for ...Trail of Dead in 2005), they only make it that much more intense and that much more powerful with Salt. With this new stance are complex compositions that mirror the deeper meanings of these songs of termination and transformation, not that anyone could have ever labeled Forget Cassettes as "simple," with five-minute-plus songs that play on quiet/loud, fast/slow dichotomies. It is well-honed tradition that continues with Salt.
It is not easy to brand Forget Cassettes as any one thing. It seems that they pride themselves on their chameleon-like music that sheds so many skins in minutes. Many of the songs on the last record, Instruments of Action, addressed ideas of loves disappeared and faded. It is a theme familiar to humanity, having something or someone close and realizing that is no longer within reach. These songs have an immediacy, an intensity to the anger, to the emotions, to the shock that comes from living and from losing. Forget Cassettes understands the universality of loss and learning to live with it or in spite of it. While it may feel that during circumstances like these that we will cry ourselves an ocean that will destroy levees, it is important to remember that salt is often put on wounds to make them heal. Sometimes it has to hurt in order to become better. It feels like Forget Cassettes wants us to feel that pain, to taste the salt of their tears, but know that change comes from destruction. Sometimes rebuilding those pillars is the only way to continue.