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[the] Caseworker

Letters From the Coast

(Hidden Shoal; US: 27 Sep 2011; UK: 27 Sep 2011)

Laconically vivacious dream-pop

Spaced-out dream pop outfits are a dime a dozen these days, so the onus on any band wishing to stand out from the pack is to provide ear-wormy tunes and crisp performances. San Francisco’s [The] Caseworker succeed on both counts. Built around the duo of Conor and Elmer Devlin, the band builds hazy soundscapes out of layers of jangling guitars and droning, low-key vocals. Highlights in include opening track “National Runner”, which lays down the template followed by the rest of the record; the dreamily vivacious “Hogsback,” with its propulsive bass line and semi-chanted vocals; and the laconic verve of “Dormer”. In fact, “laconic verve” sums up the album rather well. [The] Caseworker succeed in establishing an overriding ambience for the length of Letters From the Coast. There are forays into more or less gauzy textures, but no sharp breaks with the established sound. Some tunes are more memorable than others, and the second half of the album tends to blur a bit, but folks fond of gazing at their shoes will find much to like here.


DAVID MAINE is a novelist and essayist. His books include The Preservationist (2004), Fallen (2005), The Book of Samson (2006), Monster, 1959 (2008) and An Age of Madness (2012). He has contributed to The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, and, among other outlets. He is a lifelong music obsessive whose interests range from rock to folk to hip-hop to international to blues. He currently lives in western Massachusetts, where he works in human services. Catch up with his blog, The Party Never Stops, at, or become his buddy on Facebook (or Twitter or Google+ or whatever you prefer) to keep up with reviews and other developments.

[The] Caseworker - "National Runner"
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