Posted by: Necci – Jun 18, 2012
It's Casual – The New Los Angeles Pt. 1: Through The Eyes Of A Bus Rider (Stoked Records)
Any regular reader of Huffington Post or any number of Southern California-based websites might have chanced upon It's Casual. The L.A.-based hardcore duo earned some accolades from a variety of sources (some of which may seem a bit unlikely for such a band) for their video “The Red Line,” a two-minute endorsement of public transit that excoriates the traffic on their city's interstates. And, with all due respect to the band, based on that video alone it might be easy to write them off as something of a novelty, a public service ad shouted over down-tuned guitars and pounding drums.
But after listening to the rest of the band's output, this assessment is hardly fair. This isn't to suggest that any of their other songs are at all subtle or nuanced in any way. But it's hardly a joke. The band tackles the sort of frustrations and commentary that are so mundane few artists would even consider them as subject matter, as evidenced by songs like “We Take EBT,” “EZ Pass,” “Want My Driver's License Back,” or “Cholas are Loyal,” but this hardly diminishes the songs' impact. Because when singer Eddie Solis takes on the topics, he does so with an expressive rage that is difficult to scoff at. Over insistent mid-tempo hardcore that's not all that far removed from early Refused, Karp, or Helmet, Solis shouts about the anxieties, difficulties, and small triumphs that come part and parcel with city life. Each song consists of two or three parts, with a chorus that's typically just the song title repeated a few times. And this may sound overly simplistic, or like a description of a million bands, but the minimalism suits the band well. With nothing extraneous in their sound, the message and the music's blunt force are able to come through unimpeded.
And really, the fact that they could be perceived as some sort of joke band or one-trick-pony based on a song about taking the bus is something of a sad commentary on how creative culture is perceived. Their hearts are worn on their sleeves, their issues of concern are addressed without any sort of smirking irony or holier-than-thou political slant. Shit happens, It's Casual writes about it. It's as honest and as indelicate as life in any urban center, and the fact that it can so bluntly call bullshit on so many things without being bogged down in defeatism or preachiness makes this band's album decidedly worth the consideration.
By Graham Scala