Raymond Raposa hails from sunny San Diego, but the music he makes as Castanets
sounds as wind-swept and barren as the high plains in January. His most recent album, 2005's First Light's Freeze
, begins with "Into the Night," which sounds like austere Americana; the sharp steel of guitar strings echoes in the void, and epochs pass between barely spoken lines. Things warm up only slightly over the rest of Freeze
, which mixes cheap drumbeats, ambient soundscapes and spare banjo with Raposa's high, lonesome tenor. Montreal's Shapes & Sizes
addresses the issues of modern life and love with the catch-all spirit of a post-Pavement art-rock band. The interplay between Rory Seydel's cracked slacker drawl and Caila Thompson-Hannant's clarion voice offers a head-vs.-heart dialectic that runs through the band's best songs.