Putting a song over 10 minutes long on your debut full-length is masturbatory. Putting three songs that nearly hit the 10-minute mark on the record? That simply doesn't work, because listeners don't need much excuse to roll their eyes and shrug as they head off in more fashionable direction. (See: MGMT's Congratulations.) It's a different story for Cassiopeia. The Phoenix shoegazers don't specialize in cut-and-dried Death Cab for Cutie-style melodies. Instead, they paint spaced-out soundscapes that capture the imagination. On their debut, Cassiopeia tosses the expected whiny singer and swaps him/her for emotive guitar riffs that tell a story without melodrama. Maybe the approach led to the band's name, as the upward-gazing rockers clearly are inspired by the constellation named for the self-absorbed queen in Greek mythology. Song titles like "Stargazer," "The Ascension," and "The Highest Step on Earth" aren't exactly surprising, but the music is thoughtful and well-constructed. You could call it "space rock," but Cassiopeia skips the stoned hippie mindset for a more scientific approach. Call it the difference between astrology and astronomy.
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