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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Casual Dots
The Casual Dots
Kill Rock Stars

Rating: 8/10 ?


October 1, 2004
Mmmmmmmmmmm... gumdrops. What a tasty looking album cover! It's hard to know what to expect from a band who's album cover is a bad photo of a bowl of assorted gum drops. But, I do LOVE gumdrops... so it can't be all bad right?

Right!

The first proper full length from The Casual Dots starts off with a catchy instrumental, guitar heavy number that definitely puts the listener in the right mind-frame for the rest of the album. If you don't tap your foot, or tap your finger, or start breakdancing then you, my friend, have a rusted-metal heart. After the opener a blast of big-band-esque drums lead us into "Mama's Gonna Make Us a Cake", which is a bouncy track about how one should not waste one's life on food that doesn't taste good. Don't worry, they're dividing up mama's cake into 12 pieces, so there should be plenty to go around. "Mama's Gonna Make Us a Cake" is followed by a Broadcast-esque slow rocker called "Flowers" that in turn leads into one of the albums highlight tracks, "Clocks," a jittery, danceable number that asks the question: What is love? Is it just a matter of perception?

In case all of this wasn't enough, the Casual Dots have been gracious enough to flesh out their eponymous debut with two covers. Covers are a tricky thing, mind you, for a band to master - they don't want to cover just anything, and they don't want it sound just like the original. With those primary criteria, "I'll Dry My Tears" (by Etta James) and "Bumble Bee" pass the covers test with flying colors. The latter is an obscure blues track originally recorded by Laverne Baker, transformed here into a playful romp, beautifully executed. The straight up rhythm of the drums, along with the standard blues-guitar riffs set a great backdrop as Christina Billotte (of Slant 6 & Quix*o*Tic fame) laments about her man who is on the way out. "You know you hurt my heart again/I'm sorry baby/ it's the end/Shooo-wee/you hurt me like a bee/bumble bee/EVIL bumble bee!"

The Casual Dots is the perfect soundtrack to a Saturday drive in the Spring. It's upbeat, playful, and just plain good. With a debut this strong, I can see only more good things ahead in the future for this trio. I can't wait to hear more.

Reviewed by Stephen Smith
In a recent staff survey Stephen Smith included a picture of his cat, Nikolai, since he said he didn\'t have any of himself.

See other reviews by Stephen Smith

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