Everything old is new again. If you’ve set foot in any decent, reputable record stores lately, you would have noticed that vinyl is making an unprecedented resurgence. The vinyl format was supposed to have died long ago, supposedly killed off by the compact disc. Ironically, it is the compact disc format that is now being predicted to be the next format on the chopping block as people continue to digitize their lives while many ardent music fans are embracing the warm sonic aspects that vinyl has to offer.
In the 1970s through to the turn of the century, music lovers also had the cassette tape as an option to hear their favourite music. And perhaps not surprisingly, the cassette is also making a comeback.
Halifax-via-Saint John musician Adam Mowery has embraced the cassette format for his newest release Twin Oaks, released on New Brunswick-based label Runk Records last month. Then again, Mowery has never been one to play by anyone else’s rules.
He just might be one of New Brunswick’s most prolific and underrated musicians with more than a half-dozen solo releases to his credit along with an equal amount of releases with other acts or bands that he is or was a part of.
Mowery performs at Sackville’s Struts Gallery Friday night.
His heart and his music lie closer to the same aspects that made a band such as the musically adventurous Violent Femmes so endearing. There is an indie-music spirit that runs through his veins yet for all of the adventure he embraces, there is also a straight-forwardness contained in Mowery’s music as well.
Mowery got his start in music at a relatively young age, singing in the church choir before taking lessons in piano and saxophone and then moving onto bass and guitar.
“I basically always had an instrument around as a hobby,” Mowery explains. “My father didn’t play but he did have impeccable musical tastes. There was always a copy of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band kicking around but he also dug bands like Moby Grape and Frank Zappa.”
Getting his hands on a tape machine in the late ’90s is really what inspired Mowery to start making music for himself. It was at this point that he began taking the art of songwriting a little more seriously, using a four-track recorder and essentially becoming a one-man band on record (or cassette, if you will).
It is appropriate then that Mowery’s Twin Oaks has been exclusively released on cassette.
Mowery not concern himself with trends or is trying to set himself apart from the crowd by pursuing such a non-conventional release option for the times.
“I believe that the convenience of the cassette definitely plays a part in the resurgence of the format,” he says. “I feel that do-it-yourself music makers have gravitated towards the format more in recent years because, above all else, it is cost effective. It is a lot cheaper to make cassettes these days but there is a certain novelty value associated with it as well. And I don’t use the word novelty as a slight; I think it is honestly difficult to release anything into a local record store and have it stand apart from everything else in the store.”
Article published in the September 21, 2012 edition of the Times & Transcript