I wouldn’t say the first two seconds of the new Castlebeat album is misleading, I like to think of them as the auditory expression of one of those involuntary jerks you get right before drifting off to sleep.
And once past you head off happily to a different place.
The sandman in this case is Josh Hwang, a southern California musician who has been makes beautiful, haunting pop music armed with his white Fender Strat, plenty of echo, chorus and reverb and the hardest working drum machine since Echo (who gets that reference?).
It’s a beautiful sound and Johs’s new album, the eponymous “CASTLEBEAT” feels like the best of shoe gazer/goth from a player who refuses to go to the dark side. That may be due in part to his musical references. He says an older cousin began his journey into music with an ipod full of “the Doors and Pink Floyd. Since then, I got really into 60’s and 70’s psychedelic music and from there I got into indie/lofi garage rock.”
His new single “Heart still beats,” is one his best compositions, the guitar has a lovely Johnny Marr feel to it, underneath what you imagine what the Beach Boys would sound like coming from underwater,
But as with every music lover his influences are a mélange, “everything,” Josh says,”not just a specific genre or artists. I learn from anything with a good melody even if it’s country music or a cartoon theme song. But if I had to name some artists I’d say strokes, joy division, beach fossils, the cure, Elliott smith, and early waves. “
His music is what Josh calls “a pop melody with a melancholy vibe.” But it’s not something he necessarily sets out to create: “I feel like I naturally make music with that vibe without really trying to go for it.”
Whatever he’s doing it sounds great, but right now he’s a solo act. And he’s not necessarily a touring kind of musician. “I have been jamming with other people but nothing really worked out. I’m going to be moving to Brooklyn next week so hopefully will be better there. I really never intended to play live though, I’m open to it but I really just like songwriting and producing.”
It’s too bad because his music has the makings of a wonderful live show. I for one vote for “Change Your Mind” to be his show opener
Good luck in Brooklyn Josh and keep up the good work Rock and Roll needs you.