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Dom Casual may be named after a typeface, but their eclectic tastesGolden Age rock sounds like rockabilly, surf instrumentals and the Brit Invasionalways gave their name another context. Maybe you pictured some conniving hipster villain with curled moustache, wringing his hands as though in a ’60s exploitation flick? Too bad, but excusable.
Led by songwriter Jamie McLendon through various incarnations, Dom Casual has played with those bronzed templates, oftentimes riding the line between homage and heartfelt personal storytelling: On the band’s latest, Espanta Muerto, they’ve created a fully-formed, rich-sounding, original testament to their touchstones, at last overcoming the homage burden. The lineupMcLendon on vocals and guitar; Andy Shull on guitar, trumpet and organ; Sean Murphy on guitar and organ; Jeff Umbarger on bass; Steve Carter on drumsis the most constant and experienced Dom Casual yet. So moods strike deeper, like on the title track, a spellbinding Ennio Morricone homage. There’s the soul-searching “Dear Heart,” where a warm chorus of voicesincluding McLendon’s occasionally Orbison-esque croon, plus some textural rockabilly twangsounds with conviction.
What’s most evident here, though, is McLendon’s fully-developed inner voice, a confessional, curious persona: On the brilliant organ-driven Doors/Bunnymen creeper “Green Lights,” McLendon explores a mysterious sighting in the sky near Efland. All along, he’s tryingby interpretations of God and man, dreams, or musicto seek truths.
Dom Casual throws a CD release party Friday, Feb. 22, at Broad Street Cafe. Two Dollar Pistols join the bill with one of its final sets.