Makin Waves Record of the Week: Deal Casino’s “LLC”

Asbury Park’s Deal Casino have made not one but two great records this year with the forthcoming nine-song “LLC” LP dropping Nov. 16, just five months after the four-song “Isadora Duncan” EP.  

   When I was a kid growing up in Point Pleasant Beach, I was spoiled by the cascade of waves that lulled me to sleep most nights through the open window right above my slumbering head. But when it rained or it was too cold to keep the window open, I would listen to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon on headphones. The haunting atmospherics and mellow mood music also made a great soundtrack for sleep.

   If I were to do that now, I would listen to Deal Casino’s new LP, LLC, because the stunning harmonies, hypnotic effects, mellow detail and poetic tales are as relaxing as they are inspiring. They’re also expertly produced with the kind of nuances that make a great record even better by Erik Kase Romero, who has helped Deal Casino make all of their releases since their 2014 debut EP, Heck.

   If you’re a fan of Floyd, as well as Coldplay and Radiohead, you will dig this nine-song offering, a follow-up to the four-song EP, Isadora Duncan, released in June. I’m not sure why the prolific Asbury Park-based band did not release the 13 songs together because that would’ve been amazing. Instead, we have two fantastic releases rather than one phenomenal one. Throughout both, there’s not a bit of filler.

   LLC opens with the strongest track lyrically, “Color TV,” an absorbing chronicle of the push and pull of depression and the impact it has on lovers and friends within a tune that is pummeling in its spare and subtle simplicity. Musically, the powerful chorus sounds like The Beatles, while the well-written verses recall John Lennon: “Pick out your face, which one today/What will they say?/I say what I mean to the back of my teeth, while I sleep through the week/Black and white scenes on color TV; same faces same screen/You get what you get, and we don’t get upset, so I try to forget.”

   The bridge of “Color TV” also is great, and the chorus is best of all as it keenly illustrates the pleasure and the pain at the core of the conflict within the song, but I’ll leave their lyrics for you to discover because they are so worthwhile.

   “Happy People” then tells of a lonely guy trying to figure out what makes people happy and how they can smile in the face of a world whose apathy continually grows colder. Then there’s “French Blonde,” a fun, sexy single that has been released twice in video, and “Chocolate Cake,” a look at a decade in the life of a woman who ages from 26 to 36 in the course of the song with an increasingly bitter taste despite whatever sweetness is in her life. I love the second verse: “Brake lights off and on, but nobody ever stops/Saving up your sick days with a steady cough/She needs more than love, but this is all you got/A heart that’s halfway gone and a head that’s tied in knots/Don’t tell me you forgot.”

   In perhaps a reference to preventing suicide, “Baby Teeth” also sports strong lyrics: “I never should’ve let you talk me down, but you have a way with words that turn me around.” The nostalgic albeit edgy, eerie number recalls happier youthful times as a gnawing guitar run sets the mood of two people who work rather uninspiringly in a store but prefer to watch old movies together until they fall asleep.”

   “Marley” is a funky, quirky nugget that features Joe P’s great falsetto, as well as a great chorus: “But I’ve got nothing else to do so I’ll jump out and hit the ground with you/But maybe we should stay right here and just hide until we disappear.” Layers and layers of haunting atmospherics contrast a sweet sing-song melody and bouncy beat.

   On “Cookman,” Deal Casino make a statement about the gentrification of their base of Asbury Park and how its main shopping district is drifting into uniformity away from the eclectic artistic center it once was. I love this line: “Your tongue is bloody from fighting with your teeth/But I heard they’re giving out Grammys to the one with the shortest speech.”

   The dichotomous “Terraforming” is part quirky cyber pop, yet also music box-like melancholy as it looks at the drawbacks of balancing stifling interpersonal and fading distant relationships within the confines of a daily grind.

   Then there’s the closing “Father’s Day,” which not only is the Makin Waves Song of the Week at but also one of the top three songs of the year released by an unsigned or independent Jersey band. This heartbreaking, oddly-tuned tale of a young man who wishes he didn’t have to avoid his father but for his own peace of mind finds that he has no choice is rousingly cathartic as it releases all the raw emotions that come with such a complicated relationship.

   I don’t know how personally true this sad story is. One thing is for sure, the fathers of the four young men who created it should be damn proud of this fantastic song, as well as the many other accomplishments of vocalist-guitarist Joe P., keyboardist-guitarist Jozii Cowell, bassist Jon Rodney and drummer Chris Donofrio.

   Deal Casino are the real deal, and if there’s any rock ‘n’ roll justice, their career will continue to thrive. The best part is that as good as both LLC and Isadora Duncan are, Deal Casino are even better live, so check them out Dec. 1 at Asbury Lanes in a hometown date of a national tour with The Wrecks.

Bob Makin is the reporter for a former managing editor of The Aquarian Weekly, which launched this column in 1988. Contact him at And like Makin Waves at