Bloomington’s Mike Adams has been percolating just under the radar for a few years now, honing a blend of shoegaze, dream pop, and ‘70s singer/songwriter charms. His latest, Casino Drone, out now on Joyful Noise Recordings, is his best and most touching yet, full of the kind of songs you feel like you’ve heard a dozen times before but can’t quite place. It’s great in a specific, lived-in way; the guitars alternate hefty and woozy, and Adams’ melodies suggest the soft spot between beloved indie rock group Starflyer 59’s Gold and the melancholic sunniness of that band’s The Fashion Focus, or an alternate world in which Weezer retreated post-Pinkerton into My Bloody Valentine and Gary Numan albums instead of jock jams and halfhearted irony rawk (dig the “Martin and Cloud/Rivers and Matt Sharp” references in “Smart Marks”).
Casino Drone‘s pleasures are frequent, from the palm-muted chunk-chunks of “Diem Be” to the shimmering, synth dappled “Bronze Worlds,” and the album’s final stretch, featuring the languid “Keep My Heart Alive” bleeding into ambient washes and motorik pop on “Ideas Man,” indicates that even when Adams strays from conventional power pop, he retains his homespun appeal. Highly recommended — the work of a gently self-deprecating craftsman whose heart’s stitched tightly on his sleeve, but whose sly grin suggests wisecracks at the ready. words / j woodbury