Promotional Artwork for “the gods that adored you” by Dave Vincent Designs
Artist: Castle Black
Reviewed Music: “The Gods That Adored You” (EP, 2018)
Release Date: June 29, 2018
Track list: (5 Tracks, 22 minutes)
“Man On a Train”
“A Cigarette, Saved”
EP Review by Nic Beardsley of Dear Untitled:
‘the gods that adored you’ opens with a flippant and carefree ditty, “Man On a Train“, setting a pulsing beat which drives you through and a heavy strum of guitar overhead. Enter vocals: crisp, sharp, and right on tone, with just the right amount of twang.
This is Castle Black, the almost four year old brainchild of Leigh, their lead singer – a post punk, alternative blend of strong beats and music with a surprising kick, but that’s the beauty of punk rock. Hailing out of Brooklyn, the heart of a city stocked through history with punk rock legends, ranging from The Talking Heads, to the Gorilla Biscuits, to acts like The Strokes or The Velvet Underground, Castle Black has large shoes to fill, that is, if this, “Punk” genre, is the where they even identify as . . .
“I’ve spent life kind of feeling like I don’t really belong anywhere, so the genre question is always tough for me because I don’t really strongly identify with much. . . similarly, I don’t really think in terms of us (Castle Black) being a very specific genre. I just let them (other people) do it (classify the band) and see what we think!” – Leigh
Swirling back into the fray – the driving bass line of “River” pulls the listener along like an undertow with a current of pent ferocity and passion, strong, yet distorted, vocals rise to the surface, coaxing the listener to dip a toe in. By the end, we are singing right in key with Leigh:
“Come on down to the river
Come on down and see
Who you want to be now
Come on down with me“
– Excerpt from “River” by Castle Black
People have said through time that music has a way of moving someone. Without a doubt, if the subconscious has not moved your head by this point in the album, well . . you may be a lost cause. The energy embodied within this 5 track, 22 minute EP from Castle Black is a force which will withstand critiques from even the harshest outcry – that goes without saying. The vibe, the groove, everything about this record makes everyday colors just a little brighter in the world.
Leigh has a skillful voice which is showcased throughout the entirety of not only this EP, but also Castle Black‘s full discography. Since 2015, she has possessed a potent vivacity, her vocals calmly careening from highs to lows, kicking the eardrums with an added grit, and breathing the life into these tracks. Sure, supporting rhythm and beats are crucial to an act’s success, but in this case, vocals can make or break the album – in this case, we simply want more. The group’s instrumental backdrop has also been shaken up a couple times with some role changes for the fairly brief existence of the band, however the focal piece remains intact.
Navigating the unexpected twists this group brings to every tune, ‘Sierra‘ is another robust track on the EP which showcases the simplistic musical prowess of Castle Black with blended tempos, providing a roller coaster of crescendos to match their tactful lyrics. Among their discography we find little moments and creations such as this gem – proving their consistency throughout a learned, musical evolution and “revolution” for the punk genre. Let’s just say: the foot is tapping, head is bobbing, and I’m entertained for a mere nomad to the punk realm/sound by this point.
As the second half of the EP draws to a close, we discover that the 3 opening melodies were merely the foundation for some of the strongest closing tracks we’ve heard from Castle Black yet: “A Cigarette, Saved” and “Linen“. “A Cigarette, Saved” graces us with the album title threaded into the lyrics – a continuation of the infectious energy is transformed into what appears to be a more mellow tone, leaving behind a somber aftertaste. On our first plays of the album we knew these two songs were unique, but we confirmed that when speaking further to Leigh about her most personal pieces on the album:
“Linen” (is) . .sometimes a very difficult song to perform live. It’s largely a self-reflective song with a somewhat negative outcome, or maybe an indeterminate outcome, so how I’m feeling in the moment can really determine how I react when we perform it. . . – Leigh
One may never notice this transition at a live performance due to the stunning showmanship Castle Black possesses in the limelight though. Leigh told us that she looks forward to hitting the road on their upcoming US tour with the new crew to see them mesh and teased new music for later 2019 – pending all goes according to plan.
That being said, we at Dear Untitled hope that everything stays on track for our new favorite punk act out of Brooklyn, because more head bopping, toe tapping sounds of Castle Black is just the medicine the world needs about now. – NB
Check out the video “Broken Bright Star” from ‘Trapped Under All You Know‘ and make sure to keep your eyes peeled for big things to come from Castle Black, including a new video for “A Cigarette, Saved” later in 2019!