Castles – You, The Organ Grinder

(Eyes of Sound)

After the breakup of Manchester’s favourite noisecore nearly-men Beecher, the last thing you would really expect vocalist Edward Godby to do would be to hook up with two Belgians and form a classic rock tinged, jazz infused stoner band. Actually that’s not really the case. The last thing you would have expected would be for him to be appointed Deputy Commissioner of Network Rail. Or Sarah Palin’s new hair stylist. I’m not saying he’d be no good at either of these things, merely that they would be odd career progressions for someone primarily known for having a good shouty voice. Him forming another band isn’t really a massive leap of faith. In that context perhaps this debut by Castles isn’t as odd as it would first appear.

Forgoing both the twiddly pre-djent (*shudder*) guitar histrionics and emo-tinged melodies of his former outfit, Castles are routed in far more riff-based roots. The tone of this album is a million miles away from Beecher, all warm tones and thick beefy drumming, but all the while it clatters along with a wilful disregard for the existence of 4-4 time signatures. Which is my smart arse way of saying that it still does the whole 14 time-changes a minute thing, but with more of a groove.

Of course you can be as clever as you want with your time changes and drum fills but none of it means a thing if the songs aren’t any cop (as anyone who has had the misfortune of typing Djent into YouTube will tell you) and thankfully You, The Organ Grinder is a rollicking ride chock full of good tunes. Godby’s previous outfit’s approach to melody was always a bit too saccharine and emo-tinged for my tastes, the jarring gear changes like stepping out of a great gig by an amazing band for a drink and finding yourself not in the bar but in the bedroom of a pimply thirteen year old with bad hair and pictures of Gerard Way on the walls and a faintly unpleasant and unidentifiable odour, and he wants to share his mouldy resin smoke with you and talk about girls or read you some of his poetry. But here the clean edges have been roughed up and there’s nary a clean vocal line in sight, but the same ear for a melody is there, meaning that there are hooks and choruses aplenty to get you.

That’s not even my favourite thing about this album though. That (utterly irrelevant) honour goes instead to the title. I mean look at that comma! Any band with that level of dedication to grammatical purity surely deserves our respect. No? Just me then.

Given the levels of fanaticism that Beecher managed to generate in their small but exceedingly loyal fanbase in their short life, it seems unlikely that Castles have the same potential for mass appeal. Which is a shame because in many ways their techy-stoner is a superior breed. For a first step on a small label, however, it is an exceptionally accomplished debut, one which wouldn’t seem at all out of place in a larger home like HydraHead, whose staple of bands are a clear influence on this. Ballsy and big, this album is a fine start to the year.

8/10

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