The Crystal Casino Band ride the zeitgeist in ‘Maryland House,’ a cathartic and all-consuming indie rock record that captures the intensity, the urgency, and the raw, unconditional energy of life in the 2020s.
for fans of Oasis, Catfish & the Bottlemen, Cage the Elephant, Mt. Joy
“Curfew” – The Crystal Casino Band
How are you in the center? ‘Cause I have been better…
The Crystal Casino Band’s latest album opens in a flashpoint of tension and terror: The January 6th insurrection at The Capitol, and its physical, psychological, and emotional impacts on them and their native home of the DMV (DC/Maryland/Virginia) area. “My bubble burst like chewing gum,” frontman Pete Stevens sings at the jump, a torrent of instruments exploding all around him. “The shock and awe when you find out you’re so wrong. I thought that they would draw their guns, but now it seems so obvious…” Shockwaves fly out from roaring vocals and churning electric guitars in a seismic, seemingly endless release of pent-up feeling. It’s a powerful and provocative entrance, to say the least, and for longtime fans of the band, it’s also the hallmark of their evolution.
“Another day, morning in America,” Stevens concludes at the end of “Curfew,” resigned to live in this unsettling reality. “Not gonna lie I’m scared of ya, but I can’t leave this area.” This is what it’s like to live in the 2020s: Everything is intense, urgent, and supercharged – and The Crystal Casino Band have tapped into that experience, channeling their own passion and raw energy into a coming-of-age album that hits hard and leaves a lasting mark. If there’s no escape, then you might as well go all in, and Maryland House is unconditional: An all-consuming, feverish indie rock record that rides the zeitgeist not because it wants to, but because its thirteen songs just so happen to capture perfectly everything we’re feeling right here, right now in 2023.
Through spirited anthems that soar, stir, inspire and enlighten, The Crystal Casino Band have seized the moment: And that’s a triumph worth celebrating.
I tried so hard to catch my breath
So many thoughts race through my head
History’s with journals and a pen
But i have my Iphone’s notesapp
Next minute the curfew is stretching over the river
How are you in the center? Cuz I have been better.
I know it feels like it’s been forever
inconvenienced by shelter it’s only the helper
Independently released January 27, 2023, Maryland House is a resounding accomplishment for Washington, DC’s The Crystal Casino Band. A longtime local favorite, the indie rock quartet of Pete Stevens (guitar, vocals), Joey Mamlin (drums), Jarrod Hendricks (guitar), Jordan Mullaney (bass) has been notoriously prolific over its first ten years as a band (which included a name change in 2020), releasing a total of six studio albums – each of which has seen the group progressively honing that effervescent, beat and guitar-driven indie rock sound they make so well.
The Crystal Casino Band broke out of the Capital Region with their last album, 2021’s Not About You. Atwood Magazine praised the album immediately upon its release, calling it 25 minutes of tension and release, passion and euphoria: “Their energizing, exhilarating bursts of sound stand in direct contrast to the past year and a half’s turmoil – giving us all a chance at catharsis and relief,” we wrote at the time, drawing comparisons to contemporaries like Young the Giant, Hippo Campus, The Happy Fits, and Wallows. “Whether you’re coming for the raw, dramatic fervor of indie rock explosions, or seeking out a wash of catchy, sunny hooks to sing out loud to your heart’s content, The Crystal Casino Band is here to fill the world with some glorious sounds. Not About You is high-octane, high-energy fun: A record you’ll find yourself coming back to time and again.”
We did keep coming back for more, as did thousands of others – and it was this elevation, and the changes it brought, that ultimately served as the foundations for Maryland House. Add to that mix the ceaseless turmoil of these past few years, and you get The Crystal Casino Band’s most “serious, yet upbeat” album yet.
Don’t forget your inner child
you can find me here every once in a while
The tantrums may fade
but you still can make me smile
I’ll help you laugh at the silliest things
give you comfort through the humility
Of existing without living
When were younger we weren’t afraid to dream
I hope we’re going home
‘Cause I think we’re getting closer
– “Getting Closer,” The Crystal Casino Band
“This is by far the record we are most proud of to date,” Pete Stevens tells Atwood Magazine. “These 13 songs were all written in the span of 2020 and 2021 and tackle the life of living in the District of Columbia during these turbulent times. Because our music is such a reflection of our lives, the pandemic, the 2020 Presidential Election, and the insurrection on January 6th all greatly influenced these songs. In pop culture, so many songs, movies, TV shows, etc. take place in New York City or LA and we feel that this record gives a voice to the young people living in the DMV during this period.”
“We definitely wanted to create something different than what we did for Not About You. Thematically, those were all songs about past relationship experiences members of the band have had. While singing about relationships is VERY TCCB, we wanted to expand the themes we tackle. This album is definitely more serious lyrically, but still contains the same upbeat energy we always bring to the table. When we were writing songs and determining which ones would be on the album, we saw this seriousness recur in all the songs presented and knew this would be the direction for Maryland House.”
Your eyeliner black as the night
When you start to cry your tears in cursive write
How I won’t get back the time I lost
While you were out on the town yeah my fingers were crossed
The trust I had in you was a lost cause
Cuz your favorite hobby is to talk about me
If all of your friends knew, then why’d I have no clue?
I tried to tell you but
Boys and girls spread words like the flu
Now I don’t need to cuz
Boys and girls spread works like the flu
The album’s name speaks to the album’s overall themes – for while its emotional content is universally relatable, the stories themselves stem from the band’s immediate environment.
“Maryland House is a real rest stop off of I-95 on the East Coast,” Stevens explains. “Last year in 2022 we began venturing out of DC and playing shows all over the East Coast, and it became a frequent stop for us. There always would be a memorable experience there (usually chaos caused by Joey), and on our way home from these shows it served as a reference point for us getting closer to DC. Since these songs are so focused on living in the DMV, we all collectively loved the idea of calling it Maryland House.”
As far as reintroductions are concerned, The Crystal Casino Band have never sounded better. The band’s songs are rip-roaring, intimate and expansive, volatile and visceral. They’ve matured beyond a guitars-and-drums outfit, experimenting with a trove of instruments that add new colors and a refreshing warmth to their palette.
“In terms of our artistry, people are going to be shocked by hearing some of the instruments that end up on this album,” Stevens says. “We venture far past the standard two guitars, bass and drums we usually do. We also include a ton of synth, acoustic guitar, lap steel, UKULELE AND MANDOLIN + more. This also features so much more backing vocals from the rest of the band as well as their own lead vocals on songs – ‘Getting Closer,’ ‘City That Sleeps,’ and ‘Half Staff.'”
A great album needs great songs, and each of Maryland House‘s thirteen tracks holds its own.
Much has already been said of album opener “Curfew,” which is also a personal highlight for Stevens, who cites the lyric, “I wish my wide eyes wouldn’t see while my brain’s still developing, I thought that we could disagree without the violence on TV,” as one of his favorites.
“‘Quarter-Life’ is also a favorite of mine, as it is the most personal song I have ever written,” he says, citing the record’s penultimate track. “[It’s] the first song that discusses how I lost my father at the age of 6 when he passed away from a heart attack. I’d never written about that theme before in a song and I think it’s presented in a way that’s positive, believe it or not. The song is how you shouldn’t take your life or loved ones for granted, because you never know what will happen and reminds you to love what you have!”
Now any kid with their phone
can stream their home videos
But my childhood’s in the basement
And as the boxes grow, they’re now just stories told
And my memories are no witness.
Further highlights include the Strokes-y fever dream “Boys & Girls,” the boisterous uproar “Until the Sun Comes Up,” the bluesy, heavy-hitting rocker “Jamie,” and the irresistible alt-rock anthem “Twenty-something socialist” – an explosive indie rock upheaval reckoning with the dark realities of our world’s corrupt, broken systems. Why does half of the world’s net wealth belong to the top 1%? Why can the rich and powerful get away with actions behaviors for which the disenfranchised are jailed? If questions like these drive you mad and keep you up at night, then “Twenty-something socialist” is the song for you:
I think this life’s much more than
leading families still built for the nuclear war
If you don’t want to conform go quit your 9-5
if you’re self aware of your self worth
Now the Billionaires are up in space
sky’s no limit when you can pay
but we can’t escape our fate
And it takes sometime to get along
polarized in a standoff
but will it be enough
When life’s like this all the
20 something socialists
got 20 something bones to pick
Can’t make amends wondering why
20 something socialists
in a sense lost their innocence
Emotionally and sonically charged, The Crystal Casino Band have given 2023 a wake-up call in the form of Maryland House.
This is their unconditional triumph: A record that hits home not just for them, but for everyone living through the 2020s. These strange, chaotic times deserve a soundtrack that captures the madness of the moment, and Maryland House delivers in spades.
“I hope listeners like the thematic turn we have taken from Not About You,” Stevens shares. “Maryland House shows us testing what TCCB can be and I am so excited for the future for the band after the world hears these songs!”
Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside The Crystal Casino Band’s Maryland House with Atwood Magazine as Pete Stevens goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of the band’s sixth “overall” LP!
‘Maryland House’ – The Crystal Casino Band
:: Inside Maryland House ::
This the opener for the album and it’s about the insurrection that took place on January 6, 2021. This song is kind of like my first-hand experience of living in the DC area watching the horrific events on TV and checking in with my friends who live closer to the Capitol than I did. People who don’t live in the DMV area often forget that the National Guard was deployed and stayed in the DC area for 2 full months after. Living in DC felt as if you were living in a war zone and that can really affect someone’s psyche of living here especially as a young 20-something.
This song was the first single we released off Maryland House and it definitely shows the more political side our music has become. This song is about how our generation of 20-somethings fear the future and are jaded thinking about the consequences of climate change, income inequality, etc.. Billionaires are literally escaping to space but will not help us save the planet. We used this song as a vehicle to donate to many political organizations. We donated almost $2k worth of streams to 350.org, Fair Fight Action, National Network of Abortion Funds, IRC and more!
This song is definitely the most collaborative song between every member on the album. It also features all 4 members as singers in the chorus! While we were writing the album, Jordan showed us an instrumental he’s been working on for a while, and while we were figuring out lyrics together, we decided to write it about our flaky friend “Jamie” who never made it to our concert despite promising to. The whole song became an inside joke about this flaky friend because they’re still unaware that it’s about them.
Sorry Not Worried
This song is about having that special person by your side even though society’s collapsing. Despite the craziness of the world, everything will be OK as long as they’re with you. We’ve been sending a private link of this song to all of our fans who have pre-saved.
Boys & Girls
This is easily one of my favorite songs off of the album. I also believe that it was the very first song written from this batch of songs. In March or April of 2020 (I can’t exactly remember) but during the early days of lockdown, I was on a writing kick. Earlier that year I had heard (through gossip) that an ex of mine cheated on me while we were in our relationship. Even though the relationship had been over for a year I was processing that this was happening behind my back throughout that time. This inspired the story of this song. The fact that this was written in the early days of COVID also inspired the line “Boys and girls spread words like the flu.” The music video for this song is fantastic as well and is our most professional music video we have ever done!
Until The Sun Comes Up
This track very much so continues in the same theme as “Boys & Girls.” This is another song about adultery that’s loosely based off of my experience of being cheated on. However, this version is entirely fictional and written in the third person. Most of my songs include first person pronouns so it was liberating to write something as an outside perspective. I absolutely love the solo on this song and Joey’s drum fill at 1:26
Talking Stage ft. Divine Sweater
This track is really fun because it kinda has a country/western theme. That was never the intent, it started off with a finger picking acoustic song and our producers gave it a whole new vibe with the reworked demo of theirs. This song thematically is about the monotony of first dates. It feels like every conversation is the same as you’re trying to get to know someone. We wanted to feature a female perspective too, so we reached out to our good friends in Divine Sweater and Meg sings the second verse!
City That Sleeps
This is the first song that Jarrod has written entirely by himself/has sung for The Crystal Casino Band. To quote Jarrod: “The song is a series of vignettes on different people’s lives in DC and taken from my own experiences of living in the Nation’s Capital.”
Wealth and Riches
This is the very first song that Joey has written instrumentally for the band. He presented the entire instrumental and I wrote the verse lyrics to Joey’s idea for the title: “Wealth and Riches.” Instrumentally I think this is the most unique song we have on the album, there’s so many dynamic changes that really makes this song an interesting listen.
This is the first song Jordan has sung for the band. Originally the first verse was written inspired by a history book he was reading about the aftermath of the Civil War. Andrew Johnson was the first Johnson and then when writing the song together, I had some lyrics about the 1960s which fit because then it would be about President Lyndon B. Johnson. We show off our 60s inspirations and love for the Beatles here in this song too.
In October of 2021, the band played a wedding in rural Virginia. Upon leaving the wedding and driving home, a deer ran out of nowhere and I almost crashed into it. I was rattled up and felt as if my life flashed before my eyes. I became grateful and never wanted to take my life for granted and especially take my relationship for granted because my girlfriend was a source of comfort that night. The first verse of the song was written on the ride home and by the time I got back to DC, I had the melody and lyrics down! I truly love how this song is so climactic at the end.
When I was 6, my father died of a heart attack. He was only 52. I’ve never written a song about this before but as I turned closer to 25, everyone I knew started experiencing quarter life crises. However, it made me worried that if my dad passed away at 52, that my quarter life crisis could be a mid-life one. This song tackles my anxiety about this issue but also felt like a reminder to be grateful for life because you never know what could happen.
This is the first song Joey has sung for the band. I originally wrote this song for him to be similar to how the Beatles would write songs for Ringo to sing. Joey had sent a children’s song to us that he was enjoying “Robin in the Rain.” I listened to it and got inspiration for this song. This is about never letting go of your inner-child while you experience the troubles of adulthood. It’s a reminder to always remain positive and look at the brightside and most importantly have fun no matter what’s happening. We channeled our Beatles inspiration by doing a 4-person solo featuring backwards guitar, whistling, harmonica and mandolin similar to how The Beatles has a 3-person guitar solo for “The End.” We felt as if this song has a great sing along element that would be fitting for a bar so the outro of us singing “I hope we’re going home cuz I think we’re getting closer” we did after taking a few shots of Whiskey. Truly a fun way to end the album!
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