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Review: Casey Synesael, 'Out and In'


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Casey Synesael
Out and In
Holy Infinite Freedom Revival

Casey Synesael's first full-length solo effort Out and In, opens with two back-to-back dopey and faintly depressing downer jams. The quality is unpolished — everything was recorded on a 4­ — Track Tascam Portastudio — but the vocals sit on top of the mix to elevate what might be otherwise lo-fi bedroom demos into solid pop songs.

Things get darker and glammy after after the first crop of hazy downers. Cruising on top of "Water Well's" mesh of oddly timed overdubs, sound effects and lush instrumentation (all played by Synesael) are the vocals. They're the major charm of this tape for me. Synesael is an adept lyricist and the bare, intelligible vocals on Out and In are a refreshing departure from so many releases that hide their vocals behind an impenetrable wall of reverb and delay.

With its blend of dark atmosphere and blithe instrumentation, Out and In could be easily compared to Cleaners From Venus, or maybe Television Personalities. But the b-side immediately proves this release to be something more. The bloozey, slow dirge of "Hitch Post" is a standout track for me. The lyrics are almost — almost, but not quite — rapped, while a sort of neo-folk keyboard line lurks in the background. It's followed by "Real Estate," a track with a sincere-sounding amateurish melody a la Dunedin Sound, but with enough sinister notes thrown in to make it something completely other.

No doubt the unironic, mashed-up quality of the production and songcraft comes from Synesael's young age; he's just barely into his twenties. He is a songwriter informed not by living through any particular era of music history, but by constant exposure to it all. Everything is available to everyone all at once. But Synesael makes less obvious use of his influence than a lot of his contemporaries also raised on blogs and torrents. Much like those obscure zip files found on the furthest corners of the internet, Out and In sounds like something you might unearth in 25 years in an old record store and say "I can't believe this was made by a 20-year-old kid from Indiana!"

But it shouldn't be that way. We should be listening to this now.


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