Castanets make spare, skeletal country music on haunting 'Texas Rose' LP

There’s something unknowably lonesome about Castanets, the band anchored by singer and songwriter Raymond Raposa.

To record most of his 2008 album “City of Refuge,” Raposa holed up in a remote Nevada motel for three weeks. It sounds as if he never left on the follow-up, “Texas Rose, The Thaw & The Beasts” (Asthmatic Kitty). In fact, he sounds like the lone inhabitant of a long-forsaken town hemmed in by a parched landscape and pinned down by aching blue sky.

Raposa’s songs here are, at their core, country tunes, which is clearest on the last song, “Dance Dance,” and more oblique elsewhere. He hints at a classic country melody on the skeletal arrangement of album opener “Rose,” spare guitar and ghostly keyboards breaking the deafening silence between slow, parched waltz-time drum beats.

The steady electronic crackling and bone-deep bass on “Worn From the Fight (With Fireworks)” lend the song a hallucinatory quality enhanced by Raposa’s reverberating, double-tracked vocals and tremolo-soaked guitar.

Most haunting of all, though, is “Down the Line, Love,” a slow, mournful song with cautious guitar lines belied by lustrous piano arpeggios that come and go, the tension mounting until a savage electric guitar rips through the song like dry lightning.

It’s a timeless album, in that the sound of these songs can’t be connected to any particular time, and for that reason, it’s an eternal album as well.

— Text by Eric R. Danton, photo by Mia Ferm

Worn From the Fight (With Fireworks) mp3

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *