An enigmatic songwriter with a dark and often beautiful view on the wasteland that so many lives drift into when the American Dream either crashes or is about to, Raymond Raposa did his research into such things after testing out of high school at the age of 15 and leaving on an extended four-year Greyhound bus trip that took him all over the U.S. That sort of restlessly searching nature drives Raposa's music, both lyrically and as a soundscape. He initially released his brand of dark, psychedelic folk Americana privately as a series of CD-Rs, and by the time the Asthmatic Kitty label picked up the series for wider release, Raposa and the rotating group of musicians he worked with had become the Castanets. That's the name Raposa's first widely available album, 2004's Cathedral -- the bulk of which was recorded in a cabin in northern California's woodlands -- was released under. A year later, Raposa and company returned with First Light's Freeze. A period of acute depression followed, during which Raposa was mugged outside of his home in Bedstuy, Brooklyn. In the Vines, Castanets' third release, was completed weeks after the mugging; appropriately dark (but earnest nevertheless), the album was released in October 2007. Recorded in three short weeks in a Nevada desert motel room (alone), the sparse and atmospheric City of Refuge arrived in 2008, followed by Texas Rose, the Thaw and the Beasts in 2009. In 2012, Raposa released Little Death Shaker by Raymond Byron and the White Freighter on Asthmatic Kitty, and while technically it was released by a new band -- at least in name -- it featured many of the same musicians associated with Raposa's Castanets recordings, and the album explored the same fascinatingly dark Americana territory. ~ Heather Phares & Steve Leggett, Rovi

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