The Casket Lottery


Choose Bronze

The Casket Lottery - Choose Bronze ©1999 Second Nature Recordings
1. Midway
2. Deepset And Longlashed
3. Trust Nolan
4. Softie
5. Ocean
6. Ever Since Sulfur
7. One Trick Pony
8. Everyone Here Is Wrong
9. The Matter
10. For When I'm Missing
11. New Year's Eve
12. Home Is...

If you're interested in exactly why most emo is simpering crap, look no further than Casket Lottery's Choose Bronze. There's some stultifying irony in the fact that two-thirds of Casket Lottery are ex-members of Coalesce. Yes, that Coalesce. The Coalesce that muscled, innovated, and burned their way through hardcore cliches and banalties until absolutely nothing else mattered but COALESCE.

But let's be fair. Unlike Coalesce, Casket Lottery do not intend to move the earth's tectonic plates. But let's not be coy, either: Casket Lottery couldn't if they tried. The talent at the core of this band is constantly thrown into doubt when they insist on composing listless, boring, tepid rock songs with some guitar strumming, bass lines, drumming, and two vocalists who are nothing if not uncaptivating. It's like a well-recorded and well-performed demo - we're waiting for the final studio touch in which they'll lay down that commanding lead vocal, that moving guitar melody, or that shimmering harmony.

And waiting, and waiting, and waiting. It never does make an appearance, save for the pretty rockin' "Ever Since Sulfur", which leads me to believe Casket Lottery can indeed put together a song with conviction, but generally seem content to slam down columns of sub-par emo, because hey, it's emo, okay? Like a lot of shitty emo (such as Promise Ring or the Get Up Kids, which also includes an ex-Coalesce warrior, what's up with that?), it adds up to dull, silly, prosaic bubble-gum. And unlike other bubble-gum such as (say) Aqua or the Spice Girls, bad emo is not enduring, catchy, or sunny. It won't make you move. It has no impressive stage antics or outrageous fashion statements. Rather, in true self-serving indie rock tradition, it just sorta sits there, thinking itself great by sheer virtue of its existance, for the armies of pretentious twats in horn-rimmed glasses who like music that just sorta sits there, thinking itself great by sheer virtue of its existance.

So Choose Bronze mostly treads water. It does not have the majestic beauty and delicate, heart-breaking melodies of Sunny Day Real Estate, or the punchy songcraft and poetic insights of Rainer Maria. Never does anything betray the record's colorless mediocrity. It is, to borrow a metaphor from John Chedsey, emo-oatmeal. The instrumentation isn't even remotely impressive, despite the obvious abilities of the performers involved. Why? WHY? I just know these guys have more up their sleeves than this, and I'm sure they'll impress me someday. Just not today.

Review by Lee Steadham

Review date: 04/2001


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