Thursday, May 7, 2015

Castor - Tracking Sounds Alone

Label: MUD
Year: 1998

You all know how much I like to go on record with outlandish claims, right? And you are all well aware of my proclamation of the 90's emo Holy Trinity of: Boilermaker, Car vs. Driver, and this band, Castor, right? We've collectively covered that ground many times previous I think. I've weathered the many comments of "what about Boys Life, or Giants Chair?" (they were in fact good, just not AS good), "what about Shiner?" (also a phenomenal band, but not exactly travelling in the same circles as the above, Shiner played at bars, and Castor played house shows. But, if it makes you feel better [or nullifies my own argument] Allen Epley of Shiner has vocals on this very album), "what about Sunny Day Real Estate?" (ditto the Shiner comment), and on an on. Yes, there were a million really good bands playing and releasing albums in the 90's and yes lots of them either self-identified or were deemed "emo", but for money, my bags and bags of gold bullion, Boilermaker, Castor and Car vs. Driver were the very best, and their collective discographies can be enjoyed today as easily as they were "back in the day" (can you say that about Christie Front Drive? No.).

But, let's get back to this record.

If you had the first record, then this one was a natural progression. The same rock solid songwriting. The same incredible (and understated) musicianship. The same alternately haunting and driving structures. The only difference would be in the vocals of Jeff Garber, where here he seems to draw out each word, stretching the lines, giving the overall performance an almost distant or ethereal quality. It's a only noticeable to those who are already familiar with their other recordings, and not a huge sea change or anything, just a new twist. Easily, this record is one of the best examples of this "type of music", and generally one of the better records in my collection. I love it dearly, and revisit it often. If you don't have it, please have it.

Members went on to National Skyline, Year Of The Rabbit, Skanking Pickle (eww), The Joy Circuit, The Great Crusades, Days In December, Centaur, Sarge, and Blue Meanies (again, eww).



Anonymous said...

Loved this album back in the day, still give it a spin from time to time, but I find myself going back to their first album more often. I like the cleaner sound. Awesome band, good stuff.

KE said...

Nobody mention Jawbox.

thuglifebaldwin said...

Yea, there seemed to be 4 strains of "emo" back in the day....the Midwest stuff (castor, giants chair (who I liked best) boys life, reflector, ect, and outlying bands like boilermaker and goodbye blue Monday) the slick overproduced stuff (jejune, new Carson July, cursive, mineral, Elliot, ect) the screamy lo-fi punkish variety that didn't really have any one geographical concentration (William martyr 17, bev clone, current, chino horde, five-o, network 34, Constantine sankathi, salvo rain, ect) and the DC stuff of the 80s/90s

Loved all of it, still spin most of those bands regularly. Castor especially.

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