Coming from a career history of accentuation as the guitarist who has worked with everyone under the sun, trying to assist in filling out other band’s sound, Ben Cassorla initiates his debut by trying to strip down and minimize his own sound into simple pop songs that would make any Lennon/Harrison fan proud.
But this seems like an oxymoron for Amigos. The album consists of layering and diligence to scale back his music and achieve analog recording effects. It not so much makes an EP that pulls from a past sound create genre-defining moment as it is something used to gain a greater effect. In addition to this, every song features a guest musician to add depth to these songs. Where it puts this into perspective is the respect for a painstaking process to achieve a higher conscience and a snapshot in the life of Cassorla.
There is a spirituality to a song like “I Am,” without being necessarily spiritual. Teaming up with Crash from Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Cassorla writes sincerity like a antique Beach Boys song. “Now it’s time to focus on sleeping through the night.” The pulsating guitar/drums may accentuate the lyrics, but it also adds to a thought that Cassorla is declaring some kind of life adjustment, which is what this EP proclaims.
Like a father who lets their child venture out while not being too far behind. he may be in control, but you cannot help but look at the song with the added members in mind. Eric Earley of Blitzen Trapper finds us rolling down the beach on a cloudy day in “Bloody.” Aubrey Plaza adds pure pop bliss to “Bona Fide.” Krystle Warren is Cassorla’s Yoko to “What’s the Universal.” With a beautiful voice like that, it’s hard not to be caught up in the philosophy that they unravel.
A guitar that sounds like plucking a Dan Electro with a penny, its harsh body is as much of a compliment to smooth out these songs as ketchup is to eggs; a concoction that may not seem right, but in the end adds a dimension you cannot get with just smooth lines and smudged edges. With a little help from his friends, guitar pop in Cassorla’s world sounds pretty good.