It was only the start of summer 2010 when Jeff Bratton and Sandra Croft crossed paths and bonded immediately over a mutual love of Scandinavian pop and the in-house cover versions of classic hits released by Embassy Records in the '50s and '60s. Driven by that shared passion for precious, hook-driven music and their discovery of Finnish band Shine 2009, Bratton and Croft decided to form "an experimental pop label," calling it Cascine. Now, less than a year later, the imprint has released six singles/EPs by an array of burgeoning artists hard at work mining the disparate permutations of pop music. As Bratton's and Croft's endeavor continues to grow into its recognizable brand with Shine 2009's forthcoming full-length album and a brand-new EP from one of the label's strongest producers, Chad Valley, we take a look at three EPs that helped put Cascine on the map.
Sounding like the marriage of Primal Scream's drug-addled psych-pop and Chapterhouse's electronic shoegaze, Cascine's first release is a record of calm, collected dance-pop cuts by Helsinki's Shine 2009. Three equally strong singles—the groovy opener "Naturally," the club-friendly "Higher," and the airy ballad "New Rules"—all vie for your attention on the EP's first half, while instrumental remixes and acoustic versions of those catchy tunes help round out the flipside of Associates. The seven-song record seems to effortlessly encapsulate Cascine's taste for both the past and future of popular music.
Ladies Man Effect EP
Selebrities may be the grittiest outfit on Cascine's roster, the raw Ladies Man Effect EP its most ramshackle collection of songs. But it's within the frayed edges of Maria Usbeck's coy vocal delivery, Jer Robert Paulin's simplistic guitar riffs, and the vintage-inspired production of Max Peterson that Selebrities' heart and soul exist. Each of the four songs on the EP seem to call upon different eras of Peter Hook's and Bernard Summer's musical careers for inspiration, so it's the delivery of those ideas that holds the most weight. Thankfully, the Brooklyn band makes sure to package each infectious song with refreshing nuance and youthful exuberance.
Chad Valley EP
Were Cascine ever called upon to give the world its answer to Delorean's Subiza, Chad Valley's self-titled EP would be its best bet. Through the swaying branches of palm trees and over the hot sands of Ibiza, the Oxford-based artist shoots his funky disco-house productions straight into the atmosphere, leaving trails of ecstasy in their wake. Valley sports Auto-Tuned vocal hooks, smooth R&B melodies, slap-and-pop basslines, shimmering synth tones, and thumping club beats on the four original cuts featured on Chad Valley, and keeps his heart displayed prominently on his sleeve all the while, too. Grab this EP, and you'll be spinning "Ensoniq Funk" and "Anything" on repeat for weeks.