Rob Tognoni: Casino Placebo Review

It’s obvious that Rob Tognoni is a live musician – the thick and fast guitar work and tight construction are the basic building blocks of Casino Placebo’s aesthetic, and there is a definite avoidance of anything native to the studio – we’re talking strictly live, uncluttered instrumentation and minimally affected vocals.  Even so, the album is extremely well recorded, which is likely the first thing you’ll notice when track one starts spinning.  “Don’t Need Lovin Tonight” opens with an infectious, heavy rhythm and Tognoni’s painstakingly crafted signature guitar sound: perfectly balanced between nostalgic and modern, drawing from jangly rockabilly recklessness and British-styled meticulous angular lead work.  Enough is happening on the bottom end of the recording to keep it thrilling without detracting from the guitar work itself.

The album does have its share of head-scratching moments.  “Relax” feels like a poor attempt at something akin to Nickelback’s brand of radio-primed southern rock (as does “Hard Love”), and the album’s closer is a baffling three-minute rockabilly guitar rush with Tognoni yelling (rapping?) with his unabashedly Australian accent about every occasion he’d rather be eating vegemite.  Not that this is a necessarily bad track, it just sort of makes sense that this would be the last track on the album where it feels like more of an afterthought than anything.  Tognoni also takes on George Harrison’s masterpiece “Something.”  Through the verses, the palm-muted chugging feels a little out of place, but when the track opens up with “You’re asking me will my love grow?” Tognoni creates a beautiful pulsing texture that justifies the cover.

All this, however, is completely overshadowed by the albums instrumentals and title tracks, “Casino Placebo” and “Casino Placebo 2.”  The former feels a little frantic, and the latter a little edgier, but both are incredibly tight tracks that find a magic sweet spot and maintain tension through the entire track.  The Casino Placebo album isn’t without its flaws, but the “Casino Placebo” tracks are pretty damn close.

The Review: 8/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Don’t Need Lovin Tonight
– Casino Placebo
– Casino Placebo 2

The Big Hit

– Casino Placebo

Review by Richard MacDougall

Buy the album: Amazon | iTunes

One thought on “Rob Tognoni: Casino Placebo Review

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