Cigarettes is probably the most suitable name for Brad Casey and his music. It was chosen by Casey for its double-meanings: it can mean cool or uncool, and it can also mean acceptance or revulsion.
The image that I got from the name Cigarettes is one of an old bar with many people sitting around, casually smoking and discussing the city. And the city is a theme that Casey deals with throughout the course of Will to War and Wreck It. Together with drummer Mike Duffield, Casey creates a complex, dark and dreamlike atmosphere for his debut.
I’m going to guess that Radiohead had somewhat of an influence on the sound of Cigarettes. You can especially hear it in songs like “Ramblin’ Rose.” While the title makes it sound like a country song, it’s far from that. It’s a song with a fluid guitar picking pattern and ominous bass that sounds like something from In Rainbows-era Radiohead.
Casey also has a similar vocal style to Thom Yorke at some points- he definitely doesn’t reach for high notes the way Yorke does, but he sings with more emphasis on what his voice will add to the song than his enunciation. I couldn’t always understand what Casey was singing, but it didn’t (and doesn’t) really matter.
I really noticed the instrumentals in this album more than I have in the past. That’s probably because they’re so complex. While guitar trumps all other instruments in most records, the guitar and bass do equal work to set the mood. Often I found myself bobbing my head interchangeably between the bass and guitar because they were both so prominent.
Casey isn’t afraid of experimenting a little either. On songs like “The Night” and the epic album closer “I Saw You Once,” there are instances of what could be jamming, or just a lot of really awesome solos.
As mentioned, the album closer is an epic, clocking in at almost nine minutes and ending with a bang. It’s truly a worthy ending song that starts out restrained and slowly adds in more as it goes along.
If this is just the beginning for Casey, I’d very much like to see what he comes out with next.
Casey will be playing a CD release show at the Music Gallery in Toronto on March 31st.
Top Tracks: “Ramblin’ Rose”; “The Wrong Parts”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)