Castile keeps the dream of the '90s alive on new EP

 Photo by Nick Fancher. 

Photo by Nick Fancher. 

By Sam Kayuha

You could pull a muscle stretching to classify music as rock these days. The presence of guitars has become enough for a band to be called such, be it surf rock, math rock, grunge rock or any of the genre’s subcategories.

With Castile, no such hedging is necessary. Just call it rock and get on with it.

Magenta, the band’s second EP, drops Feb. 10. The project embraces the early ‘90s, taking inspiration from Nirvana and the Smashing Pumpkins. It’s a time warp back to when flannels and Doc Martens were fashionable the first time around.

Castile started as a solo project of Shane Randell. He recorded and a released a four-track EP in 2015, an opening statement of sorts for the band. It was not long before that one-man band expanded into a trio; Randell’s longtime friend and collaborator Adam Maynard joined on bass, and Austin Nill took over on drums.

While Randell remained the primary songwriting force on Magenta, both new members contributed to the process, making their own contributions to the arrangements and structures. The band had finished recording six months ago, but both Randell and Nill studied audio production, a background that lended itself to perfectionism in the mixing and mastering stage. Eric Cronstein, guitarist for eclectic Cincy rockers Lemon Sky, was also brought in to add his touch to the mix.  

The finished product is four tracks of burly guitar, pounding drums and melodies almost too sweet for the roughness around them. Randell’s vocals are hazy, hovering mystically above until the wave of the chorus comes and carries it along.

It is the duality of the bitter and sweet which personify this release. A tenderness appears in the most unexpected of places: a sharp rest in the bridge, the soft vocals in the verses. There is the sense that it is being teased, because it is never long before things come roaring back in all its ferocity.

But the special thing about Castile’s music is that even if these moments of tenderness are brief, they are not fleeting. They are powerful enough that when the cymbals are crashing and the fuzz box has been stomped, they remain in the listener’s head, holding an aura over the songs, an atmospheric quality that prevents the rocking moments from being too aggressively straightforward.

Magenta is available for pre-order now on iTunes, and will be up on streaming sites on Feb. 10. An EP release show will be held at Rumba Cafe the same day, featuring Castile, INBOKEH and Zombie On Radar. Tickets for the 18-and-up show are $8 in advance, $10 day of and an extra two bucks for those under 21.