Launching a side gig while your day job hits a peak seems like odd timing. And yet, that's what Boxing Lesson singer/guitarist Paul Waclawsky does with Casual Strangers, a quartet co-led by singer Katey Gunn, whose self-titled debut follows hot on the heels of the Lesson's triumphant Big Hits. At first blush, the sidestep seems casual indeed: Acid-dream opener "Tune Your Brain" and muscular cosmic trip "Space Blues" would fit nicely on the primary band's LPs. Things quickly take an eccentric turn when Gunn goes spoken word on the shimmering "Casual Strangers (We Used to Be Friends)" to castigate a former lover, and Waclawsky does his best Barry White imitation on the rocking "Looking Good" alongside Gunn's coo. Bracing lead guitar passes the baton to hair-raising giggles on "Banshee," while drummer Jake Mitchell's trip-hop beats undulate through the pretty "Caribbean Cask." By the time that Floydian cocked eyebrow "Don't Worry About a Thing" arrives and the garage innuendo of "Put Your Mussy On My Mussy" pounds, the foursome inhabits another universe entirely. Twisting expectations with shameless imagination, Casual Strangers bounces gleefully between the brain, the gonads, and the funny bone.
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