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Castanets - Texas Rose, the Thaw & the Beasts (Asthmatic Kitty)

3 October 2009

One way to look at this would be as the most insular, avant-garde, fucked-up (I mean that in the most creative way) country record ever recorded, though aside from the pedal steel that appears periodically, most of Nashville wouldn’t recognize it as country. Another would be to imagine that Leonard Cohen had been born too late, into an era where high literacy and the idea of songwriting as art are no longer honored in the mainstream. A third way, and perhaps the best, would be as the 21st century reinvention of art song.

Whatever it is, it lives out on the edge. For instance, on “Thaw and the Beasts,” there is an emotion RAY RAPOSA apparently felt could only be expressed through an interlude during which all that happened was the slow scraping of a string. It seems like the best metaphor for this album, which often suggests the feelings from a nerve stretched taut and sawed at. It is not an album entirely without hope, but what hope there is, is “Down the Line, Love,” and so explosively delineated that the listener can tell that when that point down the line is actually reached, it can’t possibly live up to all that has been pinned on it in advance. Don’t put this on for a comfortable listen; put it on for intense and disturbing catharsis.