Friday, May 15, 2009

Review: Casper & the Cookies - Modern Silence (* * * 1/2)

Casper & the Cookies is a new name to me and maybe to many of you, but we all should be quite familiar with front man Jason NeSmith's (moniker: Casper Fandango) earlier band - Of Montreal, which he was a part of in 2004 and 2005 (it has yet to be determined if Casper Fandango and Georgie Fruit are at all related). NeSmith and company (currently - Kay Stanton, Jim Hicks, and Joe Rowe) make indie music with a flair for both simple hooks and bizarre, offbeat presentation. Their latest record, Modern Silence, is a sprawling collection of 18 tunes and an astounding 68 minutes of somewhat spastic pop that covers all sorts of territory but is thoroughly entertaining and fun despite it's slightly unfocused nature.

Much of Modern Silence falls under the fairly straightforward indie pop category, like opener "Little King" and the similarly paced "Sharp!" - two brief, high-energy tunes that might fit well into an Apples In Stereo record. Elsewhere, and most especially when bassist Kay Stanton takes over on vocals, the music gets much stranger. The sinister "Pete Erchick Bicentennial Service Area" and the more playful "Little Lady Larva" are really out there, with Stanton painting weird lyrical pictures over shifting tempos and instrumentation. The two singers give the album a mild case of schizophrenia, but the record is so diverse anyway, it seems oddly fitting. Out of the lengthy track list come some very solid tunes, including the more gentle "Cloud of Bees," the scuzzy "Moldy Flower," and the goofy, funky "Keep Talking."

For those suffering from musical ADD or those who simply love to be surprised, Modern Silence is just what the doctor ordered. For the rest of us, there's still plenty to love here, but what that is just might depend on your taste or even your mood at the time. The band's unwillingness to self-edit is sometimes frustrating, but it's also what gives the record its character and personality, and it's difficult to feel too upset when you've been presented with this many options done - for the most part - very well. Casper & the Cookies are a unique, quirky, and genuinely exciting band, a group certainly worth introducing yourself to if you haven't done so already.

Casper & the Cookies on MySpace

Download: Little King (MP3), Peter Erchick Bicentennial Service Area (MP3)