BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
Portland Oregon’s Casey Neill has been building a steadily burgeoning reputation over the past couple of decades, as both a musician and union activist whose songs are charged with urgency and resolve. While he’s still well below the radar as far as awareness from the public at large is concerned, his sweeping sensibilities and emphatic delivery show that his ambitions will not be denied.
That much is evident at the outset, with the initial surge of the new album’s anthemic intro, “Hollow Bones.” Likewise, that insistent energy is generally sustained throughout, courtesy of tracks like “She Came Alive” (a supposed paean to Patti Smith, “No Earthly Pleasure” and “Signal Reach.” Even so, gathering clouds overshadow much of the proceedings, not only in tone (“Vanish Away,” being a prime example), but also in the actual verbiage of the titles as well (i.e., “The Dark Divide,” “My Little Dark Rose”). Ironically, those two aforementioned tunes – the former, a rarified ballad, the latter, a fiery Celtic work-out — offer momentary diversion from the rafter-raising exhortation that dominates the rest of the set.
All You Pretty Vandals embodies a populist approach worthy of all the experience and expertise that Neill, his band, and guests Scott McCaughy and Langhorn Slim share in tandem. Flush with journeyman resolve and working class appeal, All You Pretty Vandals offers an adroit lesson on ways to tear it up.
DOWNLOAD: “Hollow Bones,” “My Little Dark Rose,” “She Came Alive”