Thursday, November 29, 2018

Deal Casino, LLC, 2018

Interview and Album Review

By Henry Lipput

In a recent email exchange, CoolDad Music had the opportunity to talk to Deal Casino drummer, Chris Donofrio, about new album, LLC, and about the band's national tour. Below, is the result of our short exchange followed by a review of Deal Casino's latest LP.

CoolDad Music: Your first EPs came out in 2013, and it wasn't until 2017 that your first, self-titled, album came out. But, since then, you've released Isadora Duncan, an EP of new songs, and now a second album, LLC. To what do you attribute this burst in creativity?

Chris Donofrio: We decided to stop belaboring the pre-recording process, which up until this past year was to not hit the record button until every single finishing touch was put on every piece of music. With the newest body of work, we decided to have confidence in each other and just go into the studio with stuff that we wouldn't have previously considered "done;" and we actually discovered a more productive way to work for us.

CDM: Erik Kase Romero has moved up from engineer to producer on your recordings as of the Isadora Duncan EP. Has he made any changes on how the band puts together songs in the studio?

CD: Erik puts the most authentic touch on everything. Anything is possible. If you have an idea, screw it, put it on tape, it'll get used. He most definitely keeps us real, and erring on the side of the most artistic choice for the song.

CDM: Is this your first nationwide tour? Is there anything you've been looking forward to on the road? What's been the best experience so far?

CD: This is our first tour of this scale. Playing every single night is obviously wonderful, but the best experience has been talking to all these kids. The merch line after the gigs has been crazy and getting to talk to all these new fans we're trying to make is extremely enjoyable.


On LLC, band members Joe P (vocals and guitar), Joe C (guitar and keys), Jon Rodney (bass), and Chris Donofrio (drums), along with producer Erik Kase Romero, have refined their sound and created -- at least on first impression -- a stark, stripped-down album with songs of aging, loneliness, and missed connections and opportunities. But repeated listens -- and you are strongly encouraged to listen to this album more than a few times -- the songs grow on you, and the band's musical chops come into sharper focus.

One of the highlights of LLC is "Color TV." Fans of Deal Casino will recognize the song as the untitled, acoustic, 4-track demo that was on the band's Calidus EP from 2017. The version on the new album is a bit different with a choppy guitar and drum beats accompanying Joe P's ghostly and distant vocal. But, on the choru,s the elements that made the demo shine are again evident. It's the best of both worlds.

The lyrics of "Chocolate Cake" include instructions on dealing with the results of a night out ("You can hardly walk / Try and sleep it off") and two birthdays, one at 26 and the other at 36. It's not clear if it's the same person although they both have an aftertaste. It's a classic Deal Casino song in terms of both lyrics and melody, which means it's in the vicinity of terrific. There's a synth in the mix throughout the song culminating in an explosion of sound near the end that's somewhere between "Tomorrow Never Knows" and "A Day In The Life."

"Father’s Day" has a hushed vocal from Joe P. "Call you up on Father's Day / If you pick up what would I say? / Fill you in on what you missed / You shake my hand with your fist." There's also a great observation in the lyric: "All the pop stars look like porn stars / So much better on a screen." But he wants to make things better with the people in his world: "I'm learning how to engineer  / So I can fix everything next year." He repeats the line and then admits: "I can't fix anything;" and, as he moves on to the lines "Something's wrong / I don't belong," the solo guitar that has been used throughout the song is joined by the whole thrashing band as Joe begins yelling the words. It's a fantastic performance and should make for an amazing live moment.

"Happy People," a pop song with some very cool treated lead guitar work, is another number about birthdays and another year going by. "French Blonde" has Joe P doing some spoken word work and Rodney adds some slapped bass. It also has a march-rhythm workout for Donofrio. The rhythm track on "Terraforming" seems to have been lifted from a very old-school video game and concerns starting all over again whether it's in a relationship or on another planet. The lyric "Learning to breathe all over again" could work in either situation.

LLC is out now and available at Deal Casino's website or from wherever you like to get your digital music. Deal Casino's national tour with The Wrecks makes a hometown stop for the band at Asbury Lanes on Saturday, December 1.

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