Houston Music

Casino

Casino may record for a label called Fancy Music, but its music is anything but. Affluenza is Brit-style raunch and roll. More specifically, most of the bands Casino calls to mind (Stone Roses, Charlatans, Oasis) come from "Madchester" circa 1990, when the gritty red-brick northern English metropolis was the ecstasy-and-lager-fueled vortex of the rock and roll universe. This is late-night music, best accompanied by five or ten imperial pints of Boddington's Bitter and best followed by an intensely regretted-in-the-morning mystery meat vindaloo curry. That's the way they do it over there, anyway. Luckily for Houston nightcrawlers, molten curries are hard to come by after midnight.

Casino's Brit-centrism is to be expected from a band led by Damon Murrah, brother of Tim, whose late, lamented downtown nightclub Metropol was H-town's Britpop nexus. What's surprising is how well Casino pulls it off. Murrah's vicious guitar riffs sound like good ideas that should have been thought of a long time ago, as do lyrics like "You're a picture of manners in second-hand clothes" and "I put the 'us' in genius." The band stays just on the sane side of psychedelic, and for a quartet (with drummer Scott Binnings and the single-monikered Lawrence and Billy on second guitar and bass, respectively), the band crafts a nicely textured sound -- though a few more keyboards here and there would do wonders.

Affluenza has the feel of a live show. The nine listed tracks blur in to one another, and after a very long pause, the band returns to perform two excellent bonus tracks at the end of the CD. These primarily acoustic tracks should have been closer to the middle of the set, though, as there is not quite enough variance in tempo in the first nine tunes. One also wishes the backing vocals on "Air Conditioning" were a little higher in the mix.

Nit-picking aside, this is sterling stuff, and it all sounds like it would be best caught live. But if you manage to find a curry to chase those pints after the show, don't say you weren't warned when the next morning finds you in agony.

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John Nova Lomax
Contact: John Nova Lomax