I could tell Castle Oldchair was going to be a bit odd as soon as I opened the package. The art is drawn a bit oddly, and the liner notes are printed backwards (you need a mirror to read them….I tried it). Also, in the finished copy of this album, there will be a blank CD-R included, encouraging people to burn this and give it to a friend, family member, enemy, etc, etc. It’s grass-roots independent in the highest sense of the word.
Castle Oldchair is completely indie pop. Everything about his sound is laid back, upbeat, mellow, and fun. Led by an acoustic guitar and accompanied by an array of instruments that includes violin, synthesizer, and distorted vocals, this is quite an eclectic piece of work. There are some tracks that are only guitar, bass, and drums, but they are the minority here. Most pieces are layered, harmonic, and surprisingly full-sounding pieces of folk art-pop that are made for the purpose of making music. Because of the down-home feel, all the songs have a homely, not-too-loud feel. The vocals here are clear and consistent, yet a bit held back, creating a warm, endearing feel to the music. The lyrics that are put forth are a bit off-kilter, like the rest of Castle’s sound. They often contemplate deep thoughts, but they wrap the thoughts up in odd stories or surround them with non sequitur statements. This is especially evident on “Joanne Creasy”, a melancholy, stark song with passing references of religious depth. Another standout track is the lush, Cake-like “Speaking of Diamonds”.
This is Sunday afternoon music. Mellow, happy, and simple-sounding, this is an amazing album to just chill to. It has an abundance of artistic and technical merit as well, but this doesn’t deserve to be picked apart. Castle Oldchair should be taken correctly: enjoyed while lazing around, avoiding work on a bright, sunny day.