Castanets Interview


Bearded pic taken from Castanets’ MySpace

The man behind Castanets is mid US tour, yet takes time to talk with Shane Mehling about feline asthma, Freak Folk and (obviously) Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo.

usounds: What lessons did you learn from your last record that you addressed on In The Vines?

Raymond Raposa: I learned to fry eggs. I learned the wretched smell of corn mash turning to whiskey, the smell that burns the inside of your nostrils, makes you think blood will tear from your eyes. I learned that it is better to leave some things on the ground no matter how intriguing they are to pick up.

usounds: Since the name implies a group of people, was the band started out with the intention of it not being a solo project? Do you ever think about forming a full-time band?

Raposa: It only implies a group of people if it’s written or said as “The Castanets” which is incorrect. It’s Castanets. The band did start out as a trio, however quickly mutated and the possibility for happy accidents by inviting friends and strangers to share the stage was sweet unpredictability. I have dream bands in mind, but I think these dreamy incarnations are happening in ways more powerful than self-willing or intentionality. It’s a flexibility thing. Keeping limber.

usounds: With Radiohead putting out their new record for as little as zero dollars, do you think this will have a trickle-down effect for indie bands in the near future?

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The Black Dahlia Murder Nocturnal [Metal Blade]

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Rating: 5.0

Hey indie rock nerd, Iím a metal guy. I expect music to thrash, shred, and disembowel while you enjoy bands that sing about discos and crying in front of women. Do you even know the difference between grind and grindcore? Thatís what I thought. So, Usounds has asked me to be your guide through the pitchblack caverns of pure metal brutality while you listen to Arcade Fire and drink some sort of ironic beer. The only problem is that today Iím reviewing The Black Dahlia Murder.

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Radical Face Ghost [Morr Music]

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Rating: 8.0

(The first portion of this review is inconsequential, more or less, to my critique of Radical Face’s “Ghost”. Therefore, feel free to begin reading below the dotted line if you are running late for your work, bar mitzvah, or loved one’s murder trial.)

Hey fuckers, stop talking about ghosts. For the last few years, you have felt the need to stick it in your band names, album titles, and lyrics like it just got invented. I’d rather hear songs referencing blogs. And don’t give me that shit where you say you didn’t notice. Type “Ghost” and any other word in the English language, and seven indie rock bands have already used it. It’s getting fucking boring. Try and hide it among a bunch of unrelated words, and then it’s boring AND annoying (Ghostland Observatory, I’m looking in your direction). Just please stop. And while I’m here, if you still talk about ninjas, pirates, unicorns, and robots like you just cracked the fucking pop culture code- you’re just as bad if not worse.

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At some point Ben Cooper decided “Radical Face” was a good name for his solo project and as much as I’d like to disagree, there is a better chance of me forgetting the names of my own STD’s before I forget that particular moniker. Unfortunately, not all of his ideas are quite so indelible, and end up crippling the otherwise formidable debut, “Ghost”.

Glory mp3

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Kaiser Chiefs Interview

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Nick “Peanut” Baines is a keyboardist, founding member of British rock outfit The Kaiser Chiefs and, like a character out of a Back To The Future sequel, can often be found wearing two ties. We left the tie question alone, but thought of a few others to prod the kind gentleman with in the wake of The Chiefs’ new record, Yours Truly Angry Mob.

Usounds: Why do Americans hate soccer?

Peanut: It’s not as glamorous as football, and you guys aren’t as good at it, so you invented your own.

Usounds: Fuck, guess we’re not pulling any punches. What lessons did you learn from your first record that helped you with Yours Truly?

Peanut: We learned that even if people don’t like your music, they want to see a good show. After you see more established bands, and they don’t give as good a show you’re really aware that you don’t want to become stale. After touring all over the world, playing huge stadiums, and putting on relentless shows every night, you become more of a rock and roll band. And that’s what we’ve tried to capture on the sound of the record and in the writing itself.

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Shapes and Sizes Split Lips, Winning Hips, A Shiner [Asthmatic Kitty]

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There was a famous screenwriter whose name I don’t know who said something I don’t exactly remember, but it went kind of like this- “A great script gives people what they want in a way they don’t expect”. If you need the actual quote I’m sure you can pick up a Google tutorial at Borders, but either way, this idea seems to be a succinct way to describe what Shapes and Sizes is going for on their second full length Split Lips, Winning Hips, A Shiner. But the question is, do they actually pull it off?

Alone/Alive mp3
Head Movin’ mp3

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Snakes on a Plane: The Album [New Line]

So, I live next to a gay sex club. Not a bar, but a sex club. Men go in and come out all night, occasionally sitting outside and smoking, trying their best not to make eye contact with passersby. I have walked past this place for almost a year, and one Saturday at about 3:30 in the morning, my curiosity (and the Red Bull vodka) gets to me, and I decide to finally check it out. Due to my shyness around new crowds, and that whole not being gay thing, I’m pretty shaky before I walk in. My heart’s racing, my neck’s hot, and even though I decide there’s no turning back, I have to wipe the sweat from my forehead before I open the front door.

I walk in and I’m immediately in a small rectangular room filled with mirrors and a ticket booth, like the ones at theaters or carnivals. The plexiglass window is vacant just long enough for me to catch my breath, when a chewed husk of a man saunters up. His skin is pruned like he just got out of a bathtub he’d soaked in for a week and his thinned hair is puffed into a translucent buzz-cut. I try to maintain a cool, calm demeanor but I’m pretty sure the door guy for a gay sex club is going to take about one second to realize the kid with a baby face and jittery eyes probably isn’t a regular. He takes my driver’s license and gives me the basic rate, which at 22 dollars for a 6 month membership and a locker seems kind of steep. It’s not like I’m going to need a locker, I think. He tells me that’s the cheapest he has, and he hasn’t smiled once, so I grudgingly hand him the money before he presses a secret button and the steel door to the right starts buzzing. After just a few minutes being stuck in purgatory between these two worlds, I decide that I’m ready to dive in.
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