Castevet – The Echo and The Light
American’s Midwest has long been reputable as a region that birthed some of the world’s greatest emo and post-hardcore talent. The South and DC were significant in their own right, but neither broke the borders of the genre like the Midwestern bands did, and influenced bands in different genres altogether – hell, you can hear Kinsella influence in just about anything nowadays.
Enter Castevet: an Illinois four-piece, whose debut LP, Summer Fences, saw them take Midwestern emo to territory it’s never quite delved in before, with its combination of serene post-rock passages, and mathy Braid and American Football worship. Their next release took a bit longer to come into fruition, due to label troubles on Big Scary Monsters, but The Echo and The Light EP (if you can even call it that anymore, since the band added two songs to the original version to make it a 12-inch) is just about as great as one could have expected. It shows a slight shift in mood from the teary-eyed post-rock of Summer Fences, to much more gruff but bouncy instrumentation, similar to that of Cap’n Jazz. There is still post-rock influence but it is much more of a combination than Summer Fences made it, as the band is progressively improving their writing, and creating a single entity out of the post-rock/emo hybrid, rather than just dabbling on both ends. The midpoint of album closer, “Cities & Memory”, is perhaps the best instance of this, as it builds to a post-rock crescendo, and reprises with the hoarse Small Brown Bike-esque vocals that the band is well-known for. Similarly, a softly-strummed interlude on “Hiccups” builds into the typical emo singalong of this album: what we have is a generator, all you’ve found is a magnet.
However, what’s especially astounding about The Echo and The Light, is that despite all the different directions the band takes throughout its twenty (or so) minutes of playtime, they always manage to maintain the flow of music, and not go into sections that don’t make sense in the context of the album. One would think of this as an obvious and simple thing to pay attention to, but frankly, so many bands don’t take heed to it, that it certainly can’t be that easy. I mean, they go from “Lautrec”, the heaviest song on their album, into “Midwest Values”, which is nearly its poppiest song – I hate to put Castevet on a pedestal, but the average band could never pull that off.
So, though it isn’t exactly groundbreaking, The Echo and The Light is an incredibly adventurous record, without losing its composure on songwriting, in the process. Castevet introduce new facets to their sound, that will definitely see more exploration in the future, and firmly place themselves as a distinctive force amongst all the typical emo revival bands that are currently in the scene. Perhaps this reviewer just aches too much for another Low Level Owl, but it would be interesting to see them take on more drawn-out passages in their music, such as the latter does. Either way, if this release is any indication, these guys want to stick around for a while, and they’re not content with hanging around in the background.