Castanets First Light's Freeze

While there’s nothing here to turn you hair instantly white, the next Castanets album does boast some sticky melody-making, perfectly simple songs willing to pair-bond with your record collection’s whispery finest. It’s a tribal affair in the sense of numerous indie rock guest appearances, including Justice Constantine and the States-obsessed Sufjan Stevens. Raymond Raposa’s lyrics are world-weary and disconnected, a continuation of his opus on travelling the continent by Greyhound as a middle teen found on the previous disc Cathedral, and there are certainly a few "wow” moments; songs that sound like slaughterhouse knife-sharpening. Taking ancient banjos and distorting them with electronic dandelion fluff is nothing new — Raposa has roughly the same skill set as American Analog Set, just more range. I know a Fisher Price xylophone when I hear one, for example, and that sound sets off something primal. The grandmother church organ with the bossa nova beat does the same. Played live, this would be the kind of show you’d want to go to alone, just to be able to pay attention. In general, the scope of the songs ranges from pretty and carbon-frozen, to a menacing and utterly useless sonic overload. "No Voice Was Raised” puts all these elements into a single song and it works, spilling into a Balinese-sounding outro. Like I said, the mood is slightly disconnected, and fair enough. It’s not like everyone out there has burn marks on their clothes from constant hugging, right? We all need alone time for a while. When you’re lost, well-crafted, sideways music like this helps you through to the light. (Asthmatic Kitty)