Thursday, December 10, 2009

Castor - Castor

Label: Mud
Year: 1995

And here's the "other best emo record of the Nineties". Castor's self-titled first album. It has the same elements that made Boilermaker great, but these guys were slightly less bombastic (if you can consider Boilermaker bombastic) in their delivery, their songs slowly churn away. They never fell victim to the boring "slow quiet part into big loud part" rudimentary school of dynamics either. When they build a song, it's a genuine climb, and when they release tension, it's even more rewarding because of it's earnestness. Bottom line, the song writing is second to none.
I only saw them play once, opening for Braid at the Driver Dome here in Atlanta, and they fucking blew me away. Braid should never have even stepped out on "stage" after them, that's how good they were. They had an honesty and integrity to their music that set them apart from the other bands of that ilk. They seemed to could have cared less if you were into it or not, they were still gonna play as hard as they could, and maybe you would catch on by the end of their set. None of the ridiculous posturing, or falling down and rolling on the ground that emo bands began to incorporate in their acts, just real, straightforward rocking. 
They have a second album which is just as good, and when they broke up they formed a few other really good bands (National Skyline being the only one I think we've posted here), but they never could capture the spirit of Castor again.
Hail mid-90's emo! And not the Endpoint kind, or the Frail kind, or whatever...I mean this kind!



Anonymous said...

Castor was amazing. I think 'Tracking Sounds Alone' is one of THE best 90's albums.(one my top ten of all time.) The newer National Skyline is also worth the investment.

Anonymous said...

This album is amazing. To me it's like taking a drive out in the country somewhere... not caring how long it takes, what you see exactly or where you end up. You just relax and enjoy the scenery... or in this case the music. This is my favorite Castor album. National Skyline isn't bad either... some great songs... and if you can find it, check out the Joy Circuit. Same singer-guitarist from Castor and National Skyline. They had an EP or two between National Skyline albums.

Anonymous said...

The Joy Circuit was too short lived...both EPs are great.

thuglifebaldwin said...

castor sounded alot like shiner, another band i loved (well at least the "lula divina" lp) and maybe a little hum too..........

anyways as far as mid 90s emo id have to say current and chino horde where kinda the kings of it.........

Anonymous said...

I saw Castor three times and in each one of those shows, Jeff fell down. One spectacular one was getting all tripped up in his guitar cord and flailing over a plastic light-up Santa at the end of the set (which ironically, was the same show that Jeff gave me this album you feature). I don't think any of the falls were on purpose though, and were more like Kurt Cobain jumping on a drum set than an emo move.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to disagree with "emo + Castor" I think there weren't any emos in the 90s, and Castor was not certainly an "emo" band. I surely respect emos and that's why I tell you how angry I get when I read Castor falls under that contemporaneous classification. Jeff Garber is not emo at all. I hope you wont' say Juno or Mark Kozelek are emo too!!! It's like saying Mozart is alt. rock.

Gray said...

Dear Anonymous,

By you stating that you don't believe there were "any emos in the 90s" is troubling on two fronts.
Most unsettling is that you are treating "emos" as a race of people, or some religious sect, when in fact "emo" was a nothing more than a sub-sub genre of hardcore that was initiated in the mid 80's in washington dc. People making emo styled music were not ever called "emos". That, is a tag only recently applied to actual people, incorrectly in my opinion, but whatever, I'm not the word police. If you and your buddies want to call each other "emos", bully for you.
Second point, you imply that emo music is a contemporary precept, which as noted up there, is certainly not the case. As with all styles of music, there is an evolution and things twist and turn, and new words come around to describe the same old sounds. In the case of emo, it had a fairly tumultuous history beginning in the Revolution Summer in DC as an offshoot of the post hardcore sounds there, then it moved into a more straight up hardcore vein, denoting that a hardcore band was influenced by Embrace or Rites of Spring, and had lyrics that could be deemed "emotional" as opposed to the more traditional political or nihilistic hardcore fair. As the 90's progressed the term emo was two pronged, there were the bands that had a sound harkening back to the original DC bands, but giving it a new spin with big dynamics, clean vocals, and a more, dare I say, "mature" sound. This branch of emo eventually caught on outside the hardcore ghetto and was enveloped into the greater world of indie rock. The other prong was the "fall on the floor, scream over some quiet/loud, fast/slow hardcore". It was then quickly sub-divided into a million little categories, and over time became "screamo" (of course pre-dated the current version of "screamo" by a decade), and was incorporated into a majority of contemporary hardcore of that time (if not the exact sounds, the aesthetic at least). As the 90's ended, emo was a footnote in the evolution of punk/hardcore music to most. Surely there were still people and bands really into whatever style they deemed "emo" but the original wve was long over, the second wave was long over, the third wave was over, and the fourth wave was over or close to it.
That brings us to the current time, in this Emo Timeline. Whatever you are calling "emo", that's your business, I don't listen to it, or particularly care, and as I said, since "emo" isn't a personality type, I'm not, nor ever was an "emo", so it doesn't hurt my feelings if that word or musical style has been bastardized further. Whatever, that's the nature of music, it changes.
My beef with you (after that long rambling essay), is that you claim some sort of authority over a stupid word, a word generally maligned by those who were making or listening the music back then, and your facts seem to be way off. Maybe you're a young dude, and you just don't know any better, but rest assured, in this case you are wrong. Maybe you're Jeff Garber himself...well, you'd still be wrong.

I'll ignore your Mark Kozelek comment, as it is so far off base, it doesn't even register in this debate.

Thanks for reading the blog and commenting on the music. I hope I've given you something to think about and get mad at me over in the very near future.


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lee shin said...

spot on with this write-up, i like the way you discuss the things. i'm impressed, i must say. i'll probably be back again to read more. thanks for sharing this with us.

Lee Shin

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