SwearsStarting The Casual Lean’s debut album is like opening a floodgate of raw indie-rock passion. As lead singer Justin Oliver’s vocals immediately leap out viciously and almost haphazardly in the opening track “The Bride,” listeners may not be especially into the eccentric rock style the band offers, but they’ll at least be engaged.

The music is interesting to say the least. Oliver almost seems to be pleading with the audience to pay attention, desperately speaking the lyrics at times, melodically singing and varying his voice at opportune moments. And the lyrics themselves are another entity entirely. Alternately unexpected, funny and disturbing, they take on a life of their own. Slight tongue-in-cheek jokes like “And when they tell us save a little face / we tell them ‘that’s why the Casual Lean don’t shave'” in “The Blackout” are rampant throughout the album. But it’s not all fun and games. In the slower, slightly melancholy/uplifting “Torch,” an odd dedication to “grandma” and “grandpa,” Oliver states somewhat endearingly “If you pull my face back / you will see a smiling lifetime.”

Though the album does seem to come out of left field most of the time, it’s not entirely scattershot. In the much quieter, delicate “The Deer,” the band displays their depth with simple music and vocals bleeding into a rather ponderous exploration of freedom and life. “You’ll never be as free as anything out here / Cause this is the real America / We are the deer.” Though this song differs from their typical high-energy presentation, it almost seems to personify the band’s attitude. If nothing else, musical freedom is extensively explored throughout this album. As the songs explode and retract listeners are sure to find things about The Casual Lean they’re impressed with and things they can do without, but no one will say they’re simply derivative.

Zach’s Rating: B-
Perfect For: Providing an antidote to predictable radio music
Stay Away If: Your life needs direction

To purchase Swears, visit Amazon
For more information on The Casual Lean, including tour dates, visit their Myspace

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