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The Optimist's Club

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Album Review

The Optimist's Club is as blue-eyed and full of wonderment as its title suggests. Jason Nesmith (aka Casper Fandango) has once again furnished us with some inventive and catchy pop tunes that strike a nice balance between kitsch and cool. This album can teeter on the edge of ridiculousness, as in the over-the-top earnestness of "Kiss a Friend" or the manic drum'n'bass antics of "Barking in the Garden of Ill Repute," but the irony doesn't run astray. There's enough chunky percussion, enough old movie reels, electronic buzzes, toys, hammers, and aleatoric hodge-podge (subways, songbirds) to keep things gritty and interesting, even in the midst of all those clean, Fountains of Wayne guitar riffs and barbershop quartet harmonies. This album finds the band with a new lineup as Nesmith and Kay Stanton are joined by Davy Gibbs on drums. And for what it's worth, Stanton and Nesmith seem to have learned a thing or two about production since the band's last effort; the result is a much cleaner sound, with more (literal) bells and whistles. If flamboyant horn sections, ebullient declarations of love, spotless boy-girl harmonies, and true-blue optimism sound good to you, this album might be right up your alley.


Formed: 16 May 1999 in Athens, GA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Known for their eclectic indie pop and kooky on-stage antics, Casper & the Cookies grew out of a solo project pioneered by the Athens, Georgia-based musician Jason NeSmith (aka Casper Fandango). In 1996, NeSmith was the drummer for the "philosopher rock" trio Feyerabend, which in addition to NeSmith featured frontman David Dault and future Cookies member Kay Stanton. During a Feyerabend show in 1996, Dault shouted, "This ain't the house of Casper Fandango!," in response to which NeSmith shouted,...
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The Optimist's Club, Casper & The Cookies
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