Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Album Review: Castledoor's Shouting at Mountains

I'm worried that I'm going to play out this album, and I've had it for less than a week.

It's the combination of a few things that makes me want to hear these songs over and over. First, I'm a big fan of Castledoor's bouncy but soulful pop-rock. The album, produced by Robert Schwartzman of Rooney, also puts Nate Cole's vocals front and center. This isn't unusual Castledoor territory (see their EPs "Follow the Dove" and "Till we Sink"), but the vocals seem to be even more emphasized here, and that changes my listening experience. Typically I don't pay too much attention to lyrics; I treat them almost as another instrument. But when I'm listening to Shouting at Mountains I can't avoid focusing on the lyrics and following them throughout the progression of the song. And a lot of the lyrics speak to me; they'd speak to anyone who has felt that they're in a rut and don't know what else to do but to keep trudging along and hope for the best.

That's not to say that this is a sad or depressing album. It's not. The songs are generally catchy and upbeat. Rather, it's to say that even on the happier and bouncier songs (including "Fifth Tamborine," "Skipping Stepping Stones," "Blue Eyed Soul," and "Across the Border" -- my four favorite tracks on the album) there's a hint of longing or yearning in Nate's vocals that draws you in and doesn't let go. Or you could also hear optimism in the face of substantial obstacles. Either way, for Castledoor their longing comes from their dream of breaking out of the local scene, which was supposed to happen years ago. Their experiences, which shape the album, are a boon for the listener, and, if it takes them where they want to go, for Castledoor as well. One can only hope.

My only real criticism about the album is that it ends with "Moving Mountains" -- a slow, piano heavy ballad, which despite its lyrics leaves the listener on more of a down note than if the album had ended with "Across the Border."

But that doesn't stop me from highly recommending this album. Shouting at Mountains is currently available for download on Amazon.com for $6.99 here or on iTunes for $9.99. Physical copies are available at their shows.

And that concludes my first ever album review.

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