Castledoor - Shouting at Mountains
Record Label: Unsigned
Release Date: April 21, 2009
I'm as big of a fan of Castledoor as I believe I can possibly be based on the 11 songs, (from both 'Til We Sink and Follow the Dove), that I'd heard prior to Shouting at Mountains. Each track I'd heard from Castledoor was a perfectly cultivated indie-pop number that never failed to impress. Each of the tracks took on their own life and I still refuse to skip a single song from that tiny discography. You'd be more than correct, then, to say I was excited for their debut full length album, Shouting at Mountains. In fact, the word "excited" doesn't begin to convey my enthusiasm to hear more of Castledoor's genius. Now that I've heard it, I can truthfully say that my enthusiasm wasn't misplaced: Shouting at Mountains is easily one of the best albums I've heard (or expect to hear) this year.
Shouting at Mountains is simply brilliant. Recorded in only eight days, it doesn't have any of the "rushed" feeling that most albums would leave the studio with when recorded in this amount of time. Instead, this sounds like the natural progression for the band, and the entire thing sounds completely well thought out and put together. As what seems like a culmination of their first four years of work to this point, Castledoor hasn't halted their creativity, and with every moment on this album, whether it be the more vivacious, jubilant tracks or the slower, more emotional tracks, the band proves that they're going to redefine their sound again and again, while always delivering something fresh. There's not a contrived, stale moment on this album, and the entire thing pushes along at a steady pace with not a single letdown.
Vocalist Nate Cole remains on the top of his game on the new album. His singing has always been something I've appreciated about the band, and his energetic vocal delivery makes a lot of the tracks shine. One such example of this is "Free," where his determined tone during the verses really moves the track along. However, when he wants to slow it down, he's more than capable. The greatest example of this on Shouting at Mountains is on the track "Hidden Treasure," where the emotional verses lend way to an explosive and paramount chorus that's both catchy and very impressive. I'm also throughly enamored by his delivery in "Skipping Stepping Stones," where his vocals get emotionally charged and stressed, and his extremely calm delivery in "Hush."
The musicians shouldn't be slighted in any way, either. Guitarist Gabe Combs' delicate leads add a certain flair to the tracks that would be missing without, the bassist, Brandon Schwartzel, and drummer, Joel Plotnik, both excel at setting the tone of the tracks, and The piano melodies brought in by either Combs or Liska Cole (who also lends the scattered female vocals) incorporated throughout the tracks add another certain flair that I'd surely have missed had they not been there. You can't deny the charm of things like the noodling guitar riff and thumping bass line in the title track or the beautifully delicate piano arrangement of "Moving Mountains." The instrumentation really lends a hand in the moods of the tracks, which range from somber ("Moving Mountains"), to jubilant ("Fifth Tambourine"), to even a little edgy ("Dusty"), each of which is determined by the whole of the musicians' contributions to the tracks. The synth lines brought in by Coury Combs bring in even another layer of sound when they're incorporated, and various instruments (played by various band members) like the autoharp and glockenspiel lend a hand in making their sound that much more eclectic and original.
Always a band to be at the top of their game lyrically, Castledoor definitely doesn't disappoint throughout the album. Since many of the tracks are commanded by Nate's vocals, the lyrics take center stage and do everything they can to entertain. "Hidden Treasure" has particularly interesting lyrics, and I can't get over the excellent chorus where Nate sings:
"Oh my darling, don't you know there's something coming back for us? All good deeds go out unto the sea like a hidden treasure chest! So wave your flag with every single color - don't you let it fall! When the tide comes in, everyone will be rewarded, even if it's small."
The title track, along with it's vivacious guitar line, has Nate singing emphatically and proclaiming:
"There's still a piece of me, that's holding on. I can feel it in my bones - I'd let the anchor drop, if it felt wrong, but I would rather lose control. There's really nothing left to do but shout."
These kinds of quips from the album work to great avail. They don't oversaturate the lyrics in metaphor and unneeded complexity and are, instead, much more intimate, charming and warm. This, in my opinion, is the better of the two styles, and I certaintly appreciate the lyrics throughout the album.
The entire album is a solid venture. From the bouncing opening vocal lines to the soft piano lines of the intimate closer "Moving Mountains," Castledoor proves that they craft music that is intelligent, infectious, and purely heartwarming. Though 2009 is proving to be one hell of a year for music, I can truthfully say that if Castledoor is given audience, they'll surely impress more than a few people with their debut LP Shouting at Mountains. This album, so far, has proven to be the most impressive album I've heard so far this year, surpassing some extremely ambitious albums, and has a likely shot at being one of my all time favorites and the first ever deemed, by me, to deserve a nearly perfect score. It's not often that you can find an album that is catchy, intelligent, intricate, heartwarming, and beautiful, (since many of these factors seem to play against each other), and with Shouting at Mountains, Castledoor deserves to be commended for doing just that.
I doubt it will. Anyone who puts of listening to an artist just because of their past is a moron.
Hmm, yeah. I remember everyone refusing to listen to Fightstar purely because Charlie was in Busted, its ignorant to pass judgment on a band purely because of previous work, but unfortunately it happens.
i'v enever heard of this band, or any of the riyl bands, what genre (hate to use that word) would you call it?
Smart rock with cinematic atmosphere. I'd recommend all the RIYLs too. Sleeping At Last is one of my favorites and people will probably get sick of me talking about them soon, but they are criminally underrated.