On July 20th 1969 American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed a spaceship on the moon. The total distance traveled was 953,054 miles. On August 6, 2012, NASA landed the rover Curiosity on Mars, a journey of 350,000,000 miles. And on this past July 4th the Juno Spacecraft finally reached Jupiter’s orbit after a journey of roughly 1.7 billion miles. It makes the 700 mile distance between Newfoundland rock trio CastawayNights seem like small potatoes. Two of CastawayNights members -- Jon Williams (guitar/mandolin/vocals) and Glenn Hoyles (guitar/lap steel/vocals) live on the eastern half of Newfoundland whereas Brian Barbour (bass/drums/acoustic guitar/harmonica and keyboards) lives on the western side of the island in a town called Corner Brook. Williams and Hoyles record their respective parts and send them to Brian Barbour who puts it all together.
Despite this displacement, and the fact that the band has never played any of the songs they’ve written at the same time, their debut record The Midnight Hour sounds cohesive. It opens with the distortion soaked ambler “Double Rum & Coke.” This passes into the equally distorted, slow and haunting “Passing Through,” which employs some nice vocal melodies. CastawayNights shift gears into low-fi alt-country pop on the rambling “Don’t Wait” which continues with a bit more psych aesthetic on the echoing and ambling pace of “Acre of Land.”
Not everything always works out in the bands favor however as the piecemeal Neil Young meets Black Sabbath sounding “Go (As My Friend)” sounds like a recording of basement jam session more than a whole-hearted track and the same goes for the thrashing and flailing about on the weather beaten “Acid Rain & Comets Fall.”
Things begin to take shape again on the roots-y reggae-tempo rocker “James & The Dinosaur,” as well as on the sunny and six-minute sprawling closer “The Thought That Remains” with its spritely, shimmering guitars and spot on vocal harmonies.
Making a record is hard enough work. The idea of a band recording their individual parts separately and then putting them together later may seem like a strange concept, though it seems to work out well for CastawayNights. And as the saying goes if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
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