CD Review: Casper & the Cookies — Modern Silence

Casper & the Cookies


HHBTM Records

By Scott Roberts

You might not expect
“serious” music from a band called Casper& the Cookies. Even leader and principal Cookie Jason NeSmith comes across
as ambivalent and almost apologetic about the name in the band’s press kit: “We
thought of better names, but this one stuck around.” Regardless of your opinion
of the name of the Athens, Ga. band (now a trio after the departure of drummer
Joe Rowe), one listen to their newest CD Modern
will convince you that even if they don’t take themselves too
seriously, Casper & the Cookies are
serious about creating interesting, entertaining, and original music and they
accomplish this goal brilliantly using anything within arm’s reach in a studio
to do so.

Mostly delivered in short (less than three minutes) blasts, the songs on
Modern Silence nearly always leave
the listener wanting more, drawing you in with an intriguing lyric here (“Just
the other night I was the insurgent milkman’s son returning from the war to big
fists full of furious flowers” from the positively pretty “Chocolate Cake &
Coffee”) or a keyboard riff there (“Nagoya”), then going on to a completely
different place in the next song, making it sort of like the aural equivalent
of eating at a multi-ethnic food-tasting. This precedent is established from
the start with the guitar-driven power-pop of the Big Star-esque opener “Little
King” going to the stark, atmospheric beginning of “You Love Me,” which
eventually mutates into something a bit more psychedelic with elements of
post-punk as well.

Modern Silence is one of those
rare CDs (and, indeed, Casper
& the Cookies is also one of those rare bands) that feels familiar and brand
new at the same. Credit NeSmith for letting go of the reins a bit more on their
third full-length and allowing fellow Cookies Kay Stanton and Jim Hicks to
contribute several songs that all sit nicely and proudly by NeSmith’s own.

Casper & the Cookies’ refusal to be pigeon-holed and
their staunch dedication to their own musical vision, beautifully represented
by the vaguely modernist artwork of the CD package by Matt Blanks, make Modern Silence a worthy addition to the
already impressive canon of Athens,
Ga. music.     


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