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Casey Neill & The Norway Rats (from the album Sending Up Flares on Fluff and Gravy Records) (by Lee Zimmerman)
Casey Neill has never been one to curb either his efforts or his enthusiasm. An artist that eagerly jumps from genre to genre, he extends his efforts within numerous outside efforts — his solo albums, occasional participation in the supergroup of sorts, The Minus 5, and a Pogues tribute band called K.M.R.I.A. He can also be found at the helm of the Portland Oregon-based band Casey Neill & The Norway Rats, an ensemble consisting of Jenny Conlee of the Decemberists on keys, Ji Tanzer on drums, Chet Lyster on guitars, bass, synths and harmonies, and Neill himself on practically everything else.
Casey Neill & The Norway Rats new album, and fourth effort to date, finds additional assists from Corin Tucker of Sleater-Kinney, who shares vocals on the song “Jumping Out of My Skin” as well as Neill’s Minus 5 collaborators Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey playing e-bow guitar and drums respectively on the track titled “The Stars Unseen”. A markedly concerted effort, Sending Up Flares reflects a disparate array of sounds. They vary from the slow yet steady ramble of the title track, the soaring and assertive stance given “Meteor Shower” and the driving delivery of “City of Nerves” through to the eerie tick-tock rhythms of the aforementioned “The Stars Unseen”, the mellow and melodic drift of “Uncharted Terrain”, and, ultimately, the measured pace taken by “Manzanita” and “Fall Into Forever”.
It’s atmospheric and alluring all in equal measure, and, as a result, becomes consistently compelling as well. So too, the melodies are effectively underscored by cathartic themes — those having to do with finding resolve, resilience, hope and affirmation in an increasingly hostile and unsettled world.
That said, certain songs fall out of sync. The decidedly discordant “Jumping Out of My Skin” clearly lives up to its title, while the assertive strains of “Prosper Through” is as insistent as it is encouraging, a song that strongly ties into the uplifting appeal conveyed overall.
Ultimately then, Sending Up Flares becomes Neill and company’s most engaging offering yet. When they send up their signals, it’s well worth giving notice. (by Lee Zimmerman)
Listen and buy the music of Casey Neill & The Norway Rats from AMAZON
Please go to the Casey Neill & The Norway Rats website for more purchase and artist information
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