Castaway But Blessed

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Listeners would be forgiven for checking the liner notes of the Headcases' first U.S. album for a copyright date: although recorded and released in 2007, this French trio's collective heart is on Touch and Go Records circa 1995. Think Seam, Pegboy, and especially, Girls Against Boys -- that is, if the sound of those bands can come easily to mind; unfortunately, one of the main elements the Headcases have in common with their obvious inspirations is a general lack of truly memorable songs. Even the strongest tune here, "Forgot the Recipe," gets over as much due to an inventive start-stop arrangement and some ear-grabbing treatments applied to Pierre-Louis Fran├žois' vocals as it does to the song's own merits. For most of Castaway But Blessed, Fran├žois, bassist Laurent Paradot, and drummer Matthieu Gazeau cop the heavy vibe of post-grunge indie rock on superficially catchy tunes like "Juggernaut Friend" and "Tales of Far Lands," but without much beyond youthful earnestness and energy for the listener to grab onto.

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