Deal Casino has graced these pages more than once in the recent past. The main reason they continue to stay in the publication is due to their continued excellence when it comes to composing great music in their own unique way.
Deal Casino is a four-piece rock band from Asbury Park, New Jersey, known for cerebral, infectious songs and electric live performances with elements of alt-rock, pop, and blues. All four members, Joe P., John Rodney, Jozii, and Chris Donofrio, have respectively earned their roles within the competitive and high-caliber music community of the Garden State. Joe, John, and Jozii started writing music together in junior high school, but it wasn’t until the band relocated to Asbury Park that Donofrio completed the group’s lineup.
Since then, Deal Casino have continued to write, record, and perform consistently in and around New Jersey, while putting their fans first by maintaining residencies on the Asbury Park Boardwalk in the summer, downtown in the winter months, and in Manhattan’s East Village currently.
Late 2016 marked the release of the band’s fifth EP titled Human Cannonball, exemplifying the band’s “minimalist approach,” as described by Joe P. “So much of the music that we love is a performance that was recorded by a band playing together simultaneously in a studio. We wanted to challenge ourselves to do this and not add any additional layers that we can’t play live. It forced us to take away what wasn’t necessary and to listen differently.”
Drawing from influences like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Tame Impala, and LCD Soundsystem, Deal Casino continues down the artist’s path by evolving musically and focusing on great songs and musicianship. “The commitment to work hard has inspired us to go deeper,” explains Joe. “When anyone in the band writes, it pushes the others to write more often. Seeing how our idols lived and worked has been inspiring and makes us more aware of what it takes to get to the next level.”
Named after the famed beach community that boasted membership from guys like movie theater king Walter Reed and Genovese crime family underboss Willie Moretti, Deal Casino are as streamlined and mysterious as their name implies.
The band recorded two EPs at various times, including Cocaine Love and The Runaways EP. Mixing raw, confessional lyrics with the spirit of space-rock tradition, Deal Casino compose large and picturesque music along the lines of bands such as Arcade Fire and Klaxons. They utilize stark, carefully chosen arrangements to convey their specific brand of artistic desolation, and their compositional insight is pulling in droves of new fans that are seeking more truth and less flash.
So if their main inspiration contains elements of competition and idolatry, it’s a method that I not only approve of but relish when confronted with the end results. Human Cannonball came across my player recently, and I wanted to go through the songs and give my opinion on the finished product.
The first song up is the disc namesake “Human Cannonball.” Tweaked guitar riffs and chords lead into heavy, mid-tempo rhythm section work and the infectious vocals of Joe Parella. Along with Parella, guitarist Jozii Cowell blends elements of Jellyfish and Blink-182 as the rhythm section of Jon Rodney and Chris Donofrio nail this potential hit song to the tarmac like nobody’s business. The chorus is incredibly addictive and placed quickly into the overall mix at 0:52. And when I say addictive, I mean it. This is a unique song. This tune stayed in my head all night after listening to it and it’s still on my player. Could this be considered a commercial song? Yes, it could, but isn’t that the point when you live and breathe this business? If radio doesn’t eat this up, I’ll eat my hat. The outro rises into a cacophony of symphonic and joyous sound that reminds me of The Beatles.
“Panama Papers” is up next. Led by Parella, Deal Casino spins another interesting concoction of rock and roll stew straight into the aural pathway of America. Parella’s active voice is flanked by guitar work (courtesy of Cowell) that combines screaming riffs and solid chord work as Donofrio and Rodney lead everyone down a very alluring and pounding pathway. The chorus is yet another fascinating look into a band with miles and miles of pure talent. Starting off with a syncopated march attack, the chorus kicks you in the face with a riff-based ferocity that just can’t be beaten. I love the lead guitar riffs in the downbeat right before the band kicks the chorus section. The middle-eight is a great build that eventually brings the band back to their great chorus section. This is a fantastic rock song that should also get them noticed by new media and radio.
My favorite song on the disc is the last. “Purple” comes off in the vein of The Beatles’ own John Lennon. Opening guitar chords roll out from underneath bass, drums and keyboard hits with a free and easy grace. Not sure who is playing keyboards on this cut but I love the hook that they contribute to the overall song. The keys and backing vocals actually blend to create an essential part of the main hook, and it is outstanding. Jozii’s guitar work is so George Harrison on here I had to do a double-take as he tore into his lead break at around 2:18. His fiery approach and tone are the perfect accompaniment for this arrangement, and it rules supreme. Once again, this is yet another song that should put this band much farther up on the rung to industry success.
If there’s one thing I can say about Deal Casino, it’s that they never disappoint. Their writing gets better and more focused every time I listen to their latest project, and I can only think that this work ethic and level of talent is going to make a difference quite soon.
Human Cannonball was recorded at Lakehouse Recording Studios and produced by Jon Leidersdorff. It was also engineered by Erik Kase Romero and mixed by Timothy Pannella. These guys work so well with Deal Casino, and the result shows in spades. To get more information on Deal Casino and to pick up their outstanding EP, head over to dealcasinomusic.com.