Indie Rock Cafe Blog "Best DIY and Indie Rock of 2016, Vol. IV" write up:
Delivering eclectic and thunderous heavy rock sounds, powerful vocals and dark, dystopian lyrics, Brooklyn hard rock trio Castle Black’s new cinematic video – “Dark Light: A Plague Revisited” – is something to behold as far as music videos go.
“The song is essentially a song about cycles, kind of a dual story, equally applicable to relationships as well as to societal issues,” lead vocalist and guitarist Leigh Celent says. Celent is backed up by the talented bassist and vocalist Lisa Low and the powerful drummer Matthew Bronner.
“The whole idea is of the opposing forces – dark and light – coming in and out of one’s life,” Celent says.
“The parallel meaning of the song is being really unhappy with the state of affairs in society, breaking it down, trying to make it work for you and then completely destroying it all, trying to build something better.”
The video is the official video for the single from the band’s recently dropped sophomore EP, Losing Forever.
Castle Black’s sound is an inventive and stimulating mixture of genres, including classic rock, alt. rock, punk, post punk and grunge. The infusion of various genres also makes Castle Black’s style one of a kind.
Another new audio-only single, “Premonition,” is a perfect example of the band’s genre-bending talents. On this track, the band morphs into an indie pop/post-punk outfit, ripping out a hookalicious, melody-laden summertime track, complete with choruses containing the lyrics: “it was the summm-mer.” The track can grow on you.
“We’re not interested in being pinned down to a genre,” Celent says. “In fact, we specifically avoid that.”
The trio have been described as ‘the kind of band you want to catch on the way up’ (New York Music Daily), and compared to ‘hard-hitting beats reminiscent of Hole’s best songs,’ (Indiemunity) with Musically Fresh complimented the band for ‘capturing the NY sound with a subdued, crunchy garage-band sound with a slight L-7-esque edge to their own concoction.’
The band performs live regularly in New York City, the New Jersey shore, and the mid-Atlantic. Their songs have been played on both domestic and international radio shows, including Banks Radio Australia, Vulcan Sound Radio, Grrrl Power Hour, Rock Radio UK, to name just a few.
Castle Black’s biggest musical influences are The Dead Weather, Joy Division, Radiohead, and Sleater Kinney.
From New York Music Daily, November 7, 2016
Castle Black’s New Album: A Tower of Power
A year ago, power trio Castle Black had relentless energy, tons of promise and some good tunes that they were thrashing into shape through constant gigging, all the while trying to get off the Dives of New York treadmill. You know the dril: the Bitter End, Leftfield, Desmond’s, ad nauseum. Fast foward to now: they’ve got two excellent ep’s out, along with a killer video shot at Fort Tilden. The group – guitarist Leigh Celent, bassist Lisa Low and drummer Matt Bronner – are all decked out in post-apocalyptic camo, trudging with characteristic menace through the underbrush, finally emerging…no spoilers here! It’s the rare video that holds your attention all the way through to see what finally happens, a mystery story in images with a ferocious soundtrack. As usual, the trio have a couple of gigs coming up: tomorrow night, Nov 8 at 10 PM they’re playing Shrine in Harlem, followed at 11 by the intriguing Unknown Nobodies, who have both a punk side and another that veers closer to paisley underground psychedelia. Then the two bands are at the Parkside starting at 10 on Nov 18.
The new ep, Losing Forever, is streaming at their webpage. The title is typically enigmatic: is it apocalyptic, or just self-effacingly sarcastic? This group keeps you guessing. The opening track, Sabotage has a mighty oldschool Britpunk feel, it’s catchy, and anthemic, and pissed off, and like a lot of this band’s songs, is packed with unexpected tempo shifts, counterintuitive major/minor changes and catchy hooks. Premonition, by contrast, is a lot more straightforward, a bitter, vivid late-summer reminiscence. The jangle/crunch dichotomy in Celent’s gutar overdubs brings to mind the Distillers.
Bronner’s menacing rumble undpins the wickedly catchy, minor-key Secret Hideaway, part dark garage rock, part X, part Thalia Zedek. “We’ll be ok on a private holiday, wish for nevermore,” Celent intones enigmatically: a suicide pact, maybe?
Leave It kicks off like a swaying, midtempo Buzzcocks ballad and then hits a burning doublespeed punk drive, like peak-era Sleater-Kinney but with better vocals. The album winds up with its best song, the hauntingly epic, doomed Dark Light, built around Celent’s menacing, opening cliffhanger riff: it’s this band’s Last Rockers. There will be a Best Albums of 2016 page here at the end of the year and this one will be on it.
From New York Music Daily, July 11, 2016
"Power Trio Castle Black Blast Through a Tight, Killer Set in Bushwick"
Doesn’t it feel great when you stumble on an up-and-coming band who end up fulfilling their promise, and them some? Castle Black‘s sizzling set Friday night at Basement Bar in Bushwick had the fearlessness and outside-the-box creativity of classic punk rock. A lot of people assume that punk music is just three chords and a fast beat, but the reality is that the artists in the first wave of punk bands went into punk because they wanted to do something more fun and also more sophisticated than they could within the cliched confines of 70s dadrock or hippe blues. Castle Black delivered that kind of defiantly individualistic energy with equal parts guitar-fueled savagery and sardonic humor.
It’s amazing how tight this band has become over the past six months: constant gigging will do that to you. And yet, their music hasn’t lost its raw edge, or persistent unease, or outright menace. And they’re a lot of fun to watch live. Guitarist Leigh Celent played most of the set on her Fender Jazzmaster, changing to a Mustang when she wanted to switch out grit for reverb and resonance. She rocked a vintage Runaways t-shirt and jeans, with a wiry intensity in both her vocals and stage presence.
Black-clad, dark-eyed bassist Lisa Low made a stark contrast, distant, enigmatic and seemingly haunted. She ran her Fender Jaguar bass through an amp turned way up, then varied her attack on the strings for an unexpected amount of sublety. But when she stepped to the mic and traded vocals with Celent, she was no less forceful. If you could find the perfect picture of a rock drummer circa 1981, that would be Matt Bronner. Head down, sticks in the air, focused to the point of tunnel vision, he made the band’s sudden detours into some unexpectedly tricky metrics look easy, as one song shifted into 5/4 time, another one with some deviously teasing syncopation. And he’s not the kind of guy who tries to beat the sound into the drums: instead, he lets it out, for extra low rumble.
The band opened with the skronky postpunk of Doing Time Pass. Celent is an interesting guitarist: she likes catchy hooks, but just when things might get predictable, she veers off into noise. There was a little Andy Gill, or maybe Arto Lindsay in her jagged lines, but mostly it was just her. The band roared their way into Leave It with a slow, stalking groove, like a vintage Buzzcocks epic that they suddenly took doublespeed into anthemic Avengers territory, then back again.
This Old Town, with its uneasy shifts between major and minor, was a biting, bitter portrait of deadend hopelessness. Just when the catchy, Joan Jett-flavored Premonition sounded like it was going to sway along with an easygoing highway rock beat, Bronner and Celent bit down hard. They took that drive to an angrier level with Sabotage and then segued into the night’s best song, the ominously ferocious Secret Hideaway. After a confident run through the endlessly unanticipated, haunting dynamic shifts of Dark Light – Castle Black’s Last Rockers – they closed with their single The Next Thing, with its offhanded references to both stoner metal and classic punk.
From Musically Fresh, April 26, 2016
"Introducing: Castle Black – Brooklyn’s Sound Bastion"
by Jay Graves
When discussing the history of Punk, a city that will always stand out for its artists and culture is New York City, home to the Ramones, The Velvet Underground and of course the legendary CBGB club, where many artists of the time earned their stripes.
Last year the big apple saw the inception of Brooklyn founded Castle Black, a Punk/Grunge trio capturing the NY sound with a subdued, crunchy Garage-band sound with a slight L7-esque edge to their own concoction.
In existence for less than twelve months, they soon gathered traction and are now playing shows all over the five boroughs, even stretching out in to the nation’s capital of DC, the home of legends such as Bad Brains, Fugazi and Rites of Spring.
Their debut EP, Find You There, was released last August (download link below) and being an 80’s child and New Wave Punker, I’m digging this all round.
The band also have a new release set for the 7th May, so keep an eye open and set towards Brooklyn’s battlements for the next foray of sound.
From New York Music Daily, Dec. 2015
"Meet Darkly Noisy, Catchy, Up-and-Coming Castle Black"
Castle Black are the kind of band you want to catch on the way up. Right now, the power trio are running on inspiration. They’re pushing the limits of their chops, careening through a bunch of styles – old school punk, abrasive post-Bush Tetras post-punk and noisy later-period Sleater-Kinney indie aggro, to name a few – on their way to really crystallizing a sound of their own. If this is as far as they get, they’re a lot of fun live. If they keep at it, they’ve got a high ceiling. Both guitarist Leigh Celent and bassist Lisa Low sing; drummer Matt Bronner is the kind of uncluttered rock player a band like this needs. Right now they’re making their way up from crappy venues – their youtube channel has a lot of good live stuff from the odious Bitter End, for example – to good places like Matchless.
At this early point in their career, they’ve got the tunes, and a consistently dark vision. All a band like this needs to do is keep playing, and grow beyond just playing scales, or noise, when just a little something from outside the box would set them apart from the rest of the pack. The stuff at youtube is tantalizingly haphazard. There’s Premonition, which has a sludgy country feel and then picks up steam; the epic Dark Light: A Plague Revisited, with the eerie foreshadowing of its opening hook, to a series of unexpected up-and-down tempo shifts; The Next Thing, with its trippy, oscillating white noise and mashup of stoner metal riffage and viciously chugging old school punk rumble. Song of Winter is the simplest of the songs, and catchy as it is, sounds like a very early one. Someone Hear Me shuffles and careens along over a noisily embellished blues scale as the cymbals build a hailstorm behind the roar. Doing Time Pass puts a noisier spin on a vintage Gang of Four riff and then goes in a more straight-up direction.
They’ve also got an EP, Find You There, streaming at their music page. The opening track, The Old Town builds from an aching, tense post punk verse into an ominously lingering chorus, an allusive tale of kicking around a hopeless place where bad accidents happen, and you’re so numbed by the pain that you feel nothing when they do. It’s their best song so far. There are also cleaner studio versions of Doing Time Pass and The Next Thing, plus their funniest number, Psychic Surgery, sort of the early Go-Go’s doing boogie rock.
Thanks Tanya Tabone for the great review on indiemunity.com!
Castle Black – Find You There EP
03 Dec 2015
‘You’ll find nothin’, diggin’ around the old town’.
These are the lyrics to the opening tune on Castle Black’s new EP and they represent the whole album. While their style isn’t exactly what I’d call new, it’s definitely unique. And while you might find nothing digging around the old town, you will definitely find something in the rocking beats of this new EP by Castle Black.
The opening bars of the EP will tear you away from what you are doing to listen. The aggressive female vocals and hard hitting beats are reminiscent of Hole’s best songs, and the dirty garage sound of the guitars on ‘Psychic Surgery’ will have you air guitaring along in no time. The vocals on this song are high pitched and hard hitting – everything a female lead rock singer should be.
For fast percussion, strong vocals, deep lyrics and hard hitting beats, look no further than Castle Black’s EP, ‘Find you there’. It would be amazing to see them live, but if you’re not in New York you can catch them on Facebook, Spotify and Soundcloud
From Indieball by Tina Federspiel
“First thing that comes to my mind when hearing "The Next Thing" is rock music similar to Sleater-Kinney. Eighties rock fast forwards into the year 2015 ..and you have the sound of Castle Black. I envision being in a secluded downtown NY bar.... that only fits about 100 people in the room and everyone watching the band with eager eyes.”
From Speak Into My Good Eye by Josh Hershkovitz
I got there early enough to catch the openers, one of which I had never seen. Castle Black was an interesting addition to the lineup and unfortunately I only saw a few of their songs. I was treated to some gritty, aggressive female vocals. These guys came down from Brooklyn for this show, so check them out next time they come to your area.
Musically Fresh Album Review On YouTube (Album Review Begins at 6:30):
Archived Radio shows:
Interview on the WCPR "Mansion Of M" Radio Show
The Rodent Hour #1625
3rd Strike Rock, May 30, 2016
Grrrl Power Hour: October 2016: https://www.mixcloud.com/LuckyStarRadio/28-grrrl-power-hour-october-2016/
Grrrl Power Hour: May 2016: https://www.mixcloud.com/LuckyStarRadio/23-grrrl-power-hour-may-2016/
Grrrl Power Hour: December 2015: https://www.mixcloud.com/LuckyStarRadio/18-grrrl-power-hour-december-2015/
Grrrl Power Hour: October 2015: https://www.mixcloud.com/LuckyStarRadio/16-grrrl-power-hour-october-2015/
Stations we have been featured on from around the world:
Lionheart Radio FM 107.3 (Big Boots and Celtic Roots)
North Cotswold Community Radio (Unsigned Community)