The Castle of Togetherness are a new Atlanta band. I really don't know much about them, except that they read EvilSponge and sent us this EP to give them a quick listen.
The music they make consists of a few primary elements. First, there is a droning organ that often reminds me of the organ i used to hear at Mass during my mis-spent Catholic adolescence. The guitar is often subtle, so that the organ is easily the lead instrument. Finally, there is a quiet male voice, often barely heard, that more speaks the lines rather than sings them. They combine these elements with an occasional electric guitar and some light drumming in places, but for the most part the organ, light guitar, and quiet voice define the 7 songs on this album.
Things get off to an auspicious start with Frozen Pond, which features the organ drone, some martial drums, and a feedbacky guitar. It's a catchy tune, and the spoken vocals almost remind me of Jim Morrison in his more poetical moments. The song moves along at a nice pace and in general is pretty fun.
The next two tunes, Floating Forever and Ship in Harbor, blur together in my awareness. Both feature that heavily Catholic sounding organ, sort of noodling away (like when you got to church early, and the organist was "warming up" on the instrument as people filed into the pews), and some very delicate sounding vocals, barely heard and breathily in the background. Neither tune is particularly noteworthy.
Spanish Blues comes next, and this is the one of the fes songs on the album were a bass part is really noticeable. In general, this song consists of light drumming, two lovely guitar lines, a simple bass riff, and that quiet voice again. It's a pretty little tune.
The next song, Send the Feeling, is one of the few proper rock tunes here. This features prominent drumming, some nice guitarwork moving at a steady 4/4 pace, and louder vocals. The way the singer speaks his lines here, combined with the general melody and the staccato guitar riff, makes this sound like a Velvet Underground tune. It's a good song, and i find myself listening to this and wishing that the vocalist sang like this (i.e., more confidently) more often.
After that mellow bit of rocking out ends, Castle of Togetherness his us with some squealing guitar feedback that fades into the gentle lullaby that is Pale. This is an okay song, but it's painfully slow and quiet, and, well, it does make me want to take a nap, so i guess it succeeds in being a lullaby.
Finally, the EP ends with On Fire, which is a return to the Mass-like organ, which serves as an intro to a mellow rock tune. This song features some of the loudest, and most wordless, vocals on the entire EP. It's an interesting tune, and i think that this song shows that Castle of Togetherness have some good ideas.
In fact, in general i think that they have some good ideas. I like the way their songs build, and i like the organ work in general. The vocals sound nice, even though they are hesitant and shy.
I just think that this sounds a lot like an EP recorded by a band that has just formed. They have some songs that sound pretty good. So now what Castle of Togetherness needs to do is play out, perform these songs in smokey dives, and see how they go over live. In all honesty, i think that much of this music is too mellow for the standard indie rock show, in that various indie rockers will be falling asleep on their barstools. Still, perhaps performing out and getting some feedback will help the band develop their songs, and at least help the vocalist develop some self-confidence. I like his voice, but from the way the vocals are recorded, i get the distinct impression that he is not too confident in his singing ability.
At any rate, this is the debut EP of a very young band that appears to have some potential. Be on the lookout for them around Atlanta. If you really like mellow slowcore, then this EP might be a good thing to pick up. Otherwise i think that The Castle of Togetherness need some more time to develop as a band.