Castles – The View from Down Here
Record Label: Unsigned
Release Date: October 16th, 2012
Ryan Rockwell is most known for being the frontman of pop-punk band Mixtapes. They’re not a terrible band, but they’re certainly not very unique, either; I suppose the main reason why I really enjoy them is because they’re rather mediocre musicians writing about mediocre things. They’re just regular people talking about regular stuff, but not in a cheesy way, or clichéd way. Regardless of your thoughts on Mixtapes, it was announced a couple months ago, Rockwell started a rap/hip-hop entitled Castles. They released a music video for the song “Tenth Avenue,” which had a sample of the song “Tenth Avenue Freezeout” by the Boss, Bruce Springsteen. The song wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t anything great, either. In all honesty, it feels like Rockwell is just taking his mediocrity to hip-hop. That’s ultimately how I’d describe this mixtape, entitled The View from Down Here – mediocre. I know I used that word quite a bit, but I can’t emphasize that enough. While it is rather generic, it’s really fun, and one can tell that Rockwell and co. had a lot of fun making this. It’s pretty clear that Rockwell is not trying to change the rap game at all, but just wanted to branch out into a different style of music.
The mixtape starts off the intro track “Why?” and despite being a minute long, this song really does show what the mixtape is going to entail for the listener; the lyrics are full of hit-or-miss jokes, and Rockwell has a nice flow going on, but other than that, there’s really not much to take from this mixtape, except for the fact that is most likely meant to be fun. “Tenth Avenue” is one of the best tracks on the mixtape, and it’s only the second track, which isn’t really a good sign.
One thing that really bugs me about this mixtape is how every song sounds exactly the same, minus a few. “Tenth Avenue” is an exception, and so are a few more tracks. The songs are enjoyable, but they just sound monotonous after awhile. Thankfully, the mixtape is only about 27 minutes long, which is a very fitting length. There is one thing that really does “save” this mixtape, however – Ryan Rockwell’s voice. His singing voice isn’t the best, but it sounds really interesting over hip-hop beats. It doesn’t appear very often, but rarely, mainly on ninth song “girlsong.” I also said that there were a few songs that were exceptions to the monotony, and the last half of the mixtape features them. Sixth track, “Da Na Na Na (Jingle),” is one, and the track right after it, “Gold (Chain Necklace).” The former is a track that I’m pretty sure is a parody of mainstream rap artists who talk about their gold chain necklaces. Another song I believe has this satirical sound, which is “girlsong,” like I mentioned earlier. The hook literally repeats, “That’s a hook,” over and over, which is pretty tongue-in-cheek.
Ultimately, this mixtape is quite mediocre; the lyrics are another thing that does kind of save the mixtape, because they’re really clean, meaning there’s no inappropriate language, and I like that a lot. Overall, though, the mixtape doesn’t have much to offer. It’s not bad if you’re a fan of Rockwell, or if you’re looking for something new. I highly doubt that he’s trying to change the rap game, though, so for what it is, it’s quite enjoyable, despite it being rather bland.