[FREAK FOLK] Like much of Raymond Raposa's other work under the Castanets moniker, the swaggering variance on Decimation Blues reveals itself to be the strongest case for his existence in a realm far greater than the folky coffeehouse ghetto. Beyond the stark contrast between the shuffling Rhodes on creaky opener "It's Good to Touch You in the Sunlight" and the 8-bit electro-clash on the following "Be My Eyes," the bulk of side one's tracks hold up well because of their gently loping structures and economical use of space. If it weren't for Raposa's mastery of reverb and celestial nuance gluing it together, Decimation Blues would come off as a half-assembled mixtape of spitballed ideas, which is totally OK given the core strength of the record's best moments. It's the stuff between the lines—the flourishes of sax and backing vocals that creep into the mix—that makes the thing jell, even if the record feels like it's stuck on shuffle. The tender "Tell Them Memphis" is a breathy torch song that would sound great in a power outage, but the addition of skittering Auto-Tune manages to coalesce with the rest of the campfire balladry in a way that's unique to the Castanets brand. Misfires and all, Decimation Blues is a serviceable entry into the freak-folk canon.
SEE IT: Castanets plays Doug Fir Lounge, 830 E Burnside St., with Alameda and Old Light, on Thursday, Sept. 4. 9 pm. $10. 21+.