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CD Review: Castanets

Texas Rose, the Thaw and the Beasts (Asthmatic Kitty)

Ray Raposa, the extravagantly bearded mainstay of Castanets, has been trading in elusively weird folk and country since his impressive 2004 debut, Cathedral. Raposa is an unabashed risk-taker, continuously bathing his prettiest songs in unexpected noise, alternately pushing his adenoidal warble to the front or washing it in tons of echo. Last year's City of Refuge was his most straightforward album, portending a further downplay of his experimental edge. Raposa is as difficult to pin down as ever on Texas Rose, the Thaw & the Beasts. It contains several tracks that start simple (the country strum "Rose," the droning "My Heart") but eventually give way to unexpected walls of noise. The rhythmic base of "Worn From the Fight (With Fireworks)" is a rickety drum machine, and "No Trouble" buries processed vocals beneath layers of impenetrable bass and guitar squalls. Unfortunately, all this claptrap is window dressing for songs lacking a melodic center. Raposa is at his best when he sounds a bit more confident, like on "Down the Line, Love" and the superb "Dance, Dance." It seems like Raposa has a great record in him and that he'll eventually find the middle ground between his sometimes solid songcraft and a need to wander. Texas Rose is not that record.

Chris Drabick

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