Home > TheRest > Castanets – In the Vines

Castanets – In the Vines

Asthmatic Kitty Records, 2007

A rather plain, bleak cover with what look like weed shadows is what this album presents as a ‘come buy me’ strategy.  Hmm.  The even more plain back cover simply lists the song titles (yo, withOUT track numbers, man) and leaves one to ponder why anyone should take a gamble on this one.  It had to be something that involves a sad singer and a guitar, perhaps with a banjoing band or sorrowful piano.  It definitely doesn’t say ‘disco’.  Well, like anything that looks like a dollar can be thrown at it, I gave in.

The record begins with the pensive strumming of Ray Raposa’s guitar on “Rain Will Come”, with his nasally vocals sounding similar to Bob Dylan in the back of a echoic garage somewhere.  Suddenly, some kind of electrical feedback screeches into the tranquility for the remaining four minutes of song.  Ah, whatta intro.  It was a great song up that point, though.  I had to wonder at this point if this was going to be some sort of turbulent, experimental folk ride.

Nope, turns out it’s a slow indie folk kind of album.  There’s lots of pretty slide guitar in the background as well as a very, very minimal amount of drum … machine.  It definitely sets a certain tone.  Since all of the songs on the record are of the snail’s pace variety, so one has little choice but to pay attention to the lyrics to see what they’re about.  That’s where Raposa apparently stores the energy, for the lyrics seem to contain a real personal insight about Raposa’s thoughts about life, etc.  Since I can be a bit thick, and there’s nothing in here that sounds like boozing it up and wild dance parties, it was all lost on me.  Oh well.

After awhile these plodding tunes start to meld together, but “Sounded Like a Train, Wasn’t a Train” has a steady guitar strum that is oddly riveting.  Even with Raposa’s vocals penetrating the starkness of the song, the moody prettiness can get one mesmerized.  With that feeling, however, one also can miss the impression of each individual song.  Is that what Raposa wanted?  Background music?

Here’s where you can listen to some Castanets, especially if you plan on going to bed soon: MySpace or RcrdLbl

I have to admit, Castanets aren’t my usual choice of music to throw in and listen.  I know there’s some kind of musical value here, and I’m probably just an ogre and am totally missing it, but yeah, it’s there.  I just can’t imagine sitting down and wanting to play this whole thing repeatedly, especially when I’ve got -the- Bob Dylan in the stacks nearby.  However, I guess if one wants a more modern take of that folky sound, this record is a good place to find it.

If you like this kind of music, you can rejoice (quietly, with feeling) at the fact that there’s been a few more Castanets releases since this record was put out.  I imagine if you listen to a couple of these Castanets releases back to back you’ll eventually start crying.

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