The Casual Dots sound exactly how you would expect a group associated with incestuous indie stalwart Kill Rock Stars to sound -- which is both good and bad. Their debut's jumble of angular guitar shards ("Derailing"), wobbly country torch songs ("I'll Dry My Tears"), and slack-jawed strumming ("Flowers") maintains the unself-conscious, thrown-together-in-a-weekend aura that makes most KRS releases so accessible and endearing. Yet the Washington, D.C., trio's assimilation of this DIY spirit sounds neither surprising nor particularly motivated to break any new ground.
In fact, the disc is memorable only when the threesome finds a distinct voice on the final tracks: "E.S.P. for Now," whirring with stuttering, sustained riffs and a whispered spy-noir chorus; the noisy, punk-rock, prom-dance floor-packer "Evil Operations Classified"; and "Bumblebee," whose honky-tonk, post-breakup invective seems vaguely inspired by an Eddie Izzard sketch ("You hurt me like a bee/Bumblebee/An evil bumblebee!"). Undoubtedly the Casual Dots' musical agenda is implied by its informal name, but a bit less derivation on their part might have earned this outing better marks.
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