The Casket Lottery - Chooze Bronze (Cover Artwork)

The Casket Lottery

The Casket Lottery: Chooze BronzeChooze Bronze (1999)
Second Nature Recordings

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:

Contributed by: AnchorsAnchors
(others by this writer | submit your own)

The Casket Lottery are a band that doesn't garner nearly the attention in the indie rock world they deserve. They're not as flashy or as original as some of their counterparts, and often get left behind because of it. But don't be fooled, as this Kansas City band has been dilligently putting out sol.

The Casket Lottery are a band that doesn't garner nearly the attention in the indie rock world they deserve. They're not as flashy or as original as some of their counterparts, and often get left behind because of it. But don't be fooled, as this Kansas City band has been dilligently putting out solid material for the better part of the last six years, through lending tracks to countless compliations and putting out splits with the likes of Hot Water Music and Small Brown Bike. So in 1999, after a demo, EP release, and a 7", it was finally time for a full length album. The result: Choose Bronze

Before actually getting to the music, I'd like to draw attention to the liner notes. Now, for those that read my reviews, you'll know I don't ever mention the liner notes or artwork, but the art inside the liner notes really caught my eye with this CD. It's mostly old, Greek or Roman artwork, and very faded, but it fascinates me for some reason, at least enough to mention to all of you, so that's something to definitely check out. Enough procrastinating, on with the music!

The Casket Lottery provide a lot of contrast in their music, and each song offers something different at every turn. Equal parts gritty and melodic, straining and beautiful. They're obviously extremely tight and cohesive musicians, as everything flows very well together, with mathy drum beats, powerful bass, and guitar that can be clean and rhythmic, yet loud and crunching. Either sound can be put into a song without sounding forced or contrived, and it just builds off what came before it. Some people will argue this, but I see a lot of Jawbreaker influence here, and a lot of Elvis Costello influence as well. Their senses of power and melody are equally in tune, which allows them to be in overdrive, and very quietly restrained, without losing any of the songs' emphasis at all. The production on this CD adds a lot to it, but not in the glossy, overdone sort of way a lot of bands put on their records. It's produced in the way they gets the most out of each instrument; every drum fill is heard just like it should be, and every chord is strummed just as it was intended. On songs like "Trust Nolan," the contrast is most apparent, as the tempo and mood changes from very loud to smooth clean guitars and much more melodic vocals. After the interlude, the music goes back to its straining vocals, and loud, distorted guitars.

If it's not the intensity or the catchiness of the guitars, the solid basslines, or the amazing drumming that catch you with this album, certainly the vocals will. Luckily for everyone, there's just no spot on this album where the vocals relent in the slightest. Singer Nathan Elllis (ex-Coalesce) handles the vocals duties here, and at times he really brings to mind Jeremy Enigk of Sunny Day Real Estate. Channeling a certain level of emotion, but nothing over the top, he's able to create a real, earnest styling for his vocals and for his lyrics. Listen to the album's closer "Home Is.." for evidence in how his different inflections can completely and totally change the feel and mood of a song at different points in the duration. On par with the stellar vocals, which thankfully are not changed or gone over at all by the production, are the album's lyrics.

The emotion in the music is important, and is brought even more to life by the lyrics, which thankfully are not only an afterthought, as it seems a lot of bands leave them these days. As were Jawbreakers, and as were Sunny Day Real Estates, these lyrics are full of introspection, an emo staple. Emo as in Rites Of Spring, folks, which last time I checked, is not bad company to be associated with. In "Ocean:" "You can be anything here, you can be a dream / You can be the angel in the sea, if you're sick of being deep." I'm not going to put him on par with Blake of Jawbreaker, or Drew of Circle Takes The Square, who are my two favorite lyricists of the moment, but they are enjoyable, and they are well written. Another instance of this is in "Midway" " The red knife comes to mind / The one that bled nothing but rust." Simple, but eloquent, and perfectly fitting to the music.

This release perfectly set the stage for the other releases for the Casket Lottery that followed in the same vein but expanded well on what was set down here. This is a great effort for a band that's been around for years, and for a debut album, it looks even better in their favor.


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Anonymous (January 16, 2005)

"think of me"

Anonymous (January 16, 2005)

incredible album, and i disagree with the SDRE comparisons. they may be somewhat similar, but really the vocals and time changes are very different among other things.

Anonymous (January 14, 2005)

unfortunately, i've never seen junior play...bummer. they came to rochester a couple years back with small brown bike and rocky votolato but it was way across town and apparently all my friends hated music that day and didn't want to drive, so i was deprived. hopefully the cast will play some shows though, i still haven't seen them.


wrongstring (January 14, 2005)

One of my all time favorite bands. so brilliant live and their records never stagnated, each release was as good as the last. superb band.

Icapped2pac (January 14, 2005)

Great review, dude, I thought the length was perfect. This is a great album, and a great band who IMO got better with each release. That makes it even more of a shame that they're done now. Smoke & Mirrors was hell of a way to go out.

And yes, "Junior" can drum his fucking ass off. I made some mpegs of them playing a show in K-zoo, and during the breakdown in "A Dead Dear", when he pounds the toms like a madman, he was actually going faster than the frame rate, so it looks like his arms are just blurs. He's definitely one of my favorite ever to watch, probably only behind Kevin of Elliott.

Anonymous (January 14, 2005)

i love this album, although i think i like survival is for cowards and moving mountains better.

lou (January 14, 2005)

good CD. good review. kudos.

Anonymous (January 14, 2005)

Wicked band. Too bad they are no more.

To the person above that said the drummer now plays for Appleseed Cast, is this recent news? I hadn't heard of it. Makes sence though because he played with the Old Canes too didn't he.

Anonymous (January 14, 2005)

YES! this is my all time favorite cd by my all time favorite band. Anchors, that's three quality reviews in a matter of like two weeks, keep up the good work.

nathan richardson is my favorite drummer of all time. every fucking member of this band is incredible and i love the overall sound of the bass. i'm glad you pointed out that this band isn't really over produced, so true. i sound like a giddy school girl, but who cares it's the fucking casket lottery. someone should review survival is for cowards.

nathan is playing drums for the appleseed cast now, so stoked. word.


Inspection12e (January 14, 2005)

anything like SDRE*(they really need an edit button)

Inspection12e (January 14, 2005)

i don't think they sound anything SDRE.

Anonymous (January 14, 2005)

choose booze

Anonymous (January 14, 2005)

If I could score up to 20, I'd give a 20 to the first song on this album.

Anonymous (January 14, 2005)

i would have to agree with the sunny day real estate comment, but i really enjoy this band. moving mountains is also quite good.

Anonymous (January 14, 2005)

this is a solid album, but if you'd absolutly swear you were listening to Sunny Deal Real Estate if you didnt know.

Anonymous (January 14, 2005)

i kinda want to get this, for my overwhelming love for coalesce if for nothing else.

mykindofmurder (January 14, 2005)

good band, great artwork...decent review, a bit lengthy.

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