Picks and Pans Review: It Is Balloon

updated 12/11/1995 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/11/1995 AT 01:00 AM EST

The Incredible Casuals

One of the truly great obscure rock bands in America is this veteran outfit from Cape Cod, Mass. They have remained unsung because they are nearly impossible to classify. Even on such infectious radio-ready tunes as this album's "This World" and "Close Enough," they maintain a coy, bent approach. The sunny pop idioms that inform "Here's My Heart" and "Same Thing" are always accompanied by a subtle subtext of irony, thanks to the quartet's semisarcastic tone. The Casuals somehow manage to temper garage-band bluntness with an accomplished artfulness. They're brown-bag virtuosos. Like NRBQ (the group to which they are most often compared), the foursome purposefully pour their masterful songwriting and musicianship into an unrefined, lo-fi package. That pretty perversity is what makes the group's name so germane: In their own delightfully casual way, they're incredible. (Akers Recording Company, P.O. Box 8096, Boston, Mass. 02114. Phone: 617-338-8646)

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