Picks and Pans Review: That's That

The Incredible Casuals

This ravishing record is a stark reminder of rock’s basic power and simple pleasures. Boy, do we need it now, in this era of wretched rock excess. Using just guitars, drums, bass and voices, the Casuals create a model combination of sharp songwriting and pithy musicianship. The vocals are unostentatiously attractive, and the arrangements carry a taut but catchy assurance. The style is a cross between Elvis Costello’s less mordant work (such as Get Happy!!!) and the catchy pop of the original British Invasion. The second side is particularly adhesive to the ear, containing gems such as In the Darkness, which begins with a shimmering pop riff, kicks into a soulful double time variation halfway through, then fades with a resolution of its opening motif. The Cape Cod-based Casuals include guitarist Johnny Spampinato, bassist Chandler Travis and drummer Vince Valium. Steve Shook, part of the group when it was Travis Shook and the Club Wow, returns for this record as guest guitarist. While this is their first LP, the Casuals have traveled the East Coast club scene for more than 10 years. They’ve obviously developed a musical confidence that doesn’t have to ape current fashions or resort to glitz. (Rounder)

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