Monday, November 16, 2009

Castevet - 'Summer Fences'

Know what’s a great feeling? When you fall so in love with a record that you forget how long you’ve been listening to it. I’ve spent the last week and a half spinning Summer Fences, the new-ish record by atmospheric indie band Castevet. Every time I think I have a bead on what I’m going to write about the album, I end up just playing it again instead. It’s an appealing blend of ferocious hardcore and moody post-rock.

Opening track “Between Berwyn and Bryn Mawr” grabbed the attention of this Pennsylvania native right away, although I’m sure the band is talking about some other place. As intro tracks go, it’s kind of like a thesis statement, in that Castevet lets the listener know exactly what they’re about to do. For a second, the band sounds like another Hot Water Music/Planes Mistaken for Stars clone, but that notion is quickly dismissed. My gut tells me these guys are more reminiscent of spacier fare like Envy, Appleseed Cast, and maybe Mogwai, just filtered through a Latterman-esque punk rock viewpoint. It’s gruff vocals and seductive guitar textures ahoy.

While the band successfully takes a stab at shorter song constructions on “Plays One on TV,” Castevet is at its most successful when it opens up to more expansive ideas. Six out of the album’s eight songs surpass the five-minute mark (“Stranger You Know” comes close at 4:50), and two of those go beyond seven minutes. “I Know What a Lion Is,” a delightfully swirling and soothing song, achieves some epic dynamics. It perfectly segues into “Stranger You Know” – the ebb and flow on this record is incredible.

Throw in a few humorous song titles (“Space Jam (The Return),” “Evil Robot With Swords For Hands”), and Summer Fences is memorable on every level. The guitar tones are perfect for these fall months, when things get colder and more contemplative. Not that Summer Fences is any way a downer record. The music is fairly uplifting and rocking, just coupled with super pretty instrumental parts. It’s an easy record to get lost in.

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