FreshmenPure Noise Records
By Dustin Blumhagen
With a never ending supply of new music coming from places like Spotify and Bandcamp, it is easy to get overwhelmed. Bands start to sound the same as they attempt to imitate their influences and chase trends. Originality suffers at the expense of being heard. On rare occasions, something exciting jumps out of the crowd and surprises the listener. Casey Bolles is one of those artists who stands apart from his peers with an engaging collection of acoustic songs.
On Freshmen we are introduced to an artist who relies upon his acoustic guitar and quirky delivery to convey his poetic lyrics. There are of course influences that appear at various times, from the Max Bemis vocalization on Brain Sweater to the occasional warble that brings to mind Modern Baseball. With Cowboy Killers, he may have managed to write the mellowest track with the most metal title ever. These are catchy acoustic tracks that are supported by Bolles’ strong voice, which is surprisingly strong in spite of his young age. The melancholy tone and sleepy music make this a perfect rainy day listen. While not as intellectual as Bright Eyes, it does contain many of the qualities that make Connor Oberst’s music appealing, such as the ability to evoke emotion from simple melodies and spare guitar accompaniment.
The spare accompaniment ensures that the focus remains on the vocals and the lyrics, which both contain a wealth of barely restrained emotion. This is an amazing debut from a young artist. Rarely do debuts contain so much maturity. Granted, the lyrical content is focused on self-involved themes like young love, but it is portrayed in an interesting way that exhibits enough originality to stand apart from Bolles’ peers. This is an album that should be listened to at least once, if only to hear something refreshingly honest in a creative manner.