The Cast Before the Break - Still [reissue] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Cast Before the Break

Still [reissue] (2011)

Deep Elm

The Cast Before the Break's first proper full-length, Still, was originally issued in 2009 and receives a fresh digital release here courtesy of increasing post-rock monopoly Deep Elm. Following on the heels of their 2008 EP, As Your Shoulders Turn on You, the album's likely to garner the same sort of comparisons–but the songwriting and overall tone has been noticeably improved.

It's pretty simple: Basically, Still imagines Waiting-era Geoff Rickly (with more confidence and range) fronting (fellow upstate New Yorkers) Moving Mountains ca. Pneuma. And while the Cast does a bang-up job of such an impression, they can write some pretty compelling songs to back up the fantasy league scenario.

Opener "Mira" is a familiar take on a well-worn sound, but its slow procession has immediate emotional effect. A simple, wide-open, two-minute post-rock endeavor This Will Destroy You might've spun on Young Mountain (and similarly, there's Explosions in the Sky-style twinkling during the first minute of "Head on a String" and "To Believe in Something"), it's a warm, compelling way to initiate the album. It segues cleanly into "Sleep", with the introduction of the lead vocals showing off a certain delicacy and patience that proves to be a sticking point throughout Still. The slow yells adjoining in the memorable chorus are pretty much out of MovMou's playbook, but by now you've forgiven the band for wearing their influences so brightly simply because of how defined and heartrending they've proven to be just five minutes into the album.

Really, the Cast has the minimum to carry this album consistently, from a handful of solid influences to just a couple different pedals and tricks, but they really get mileage out of 'em. Slow-picked chords, dancing, sparkly guitars, and splashy, steady percussion fill everything in prettily and efficiently. Their moods vary somewhat at least, from the prettier heartache making up much of the first half, to the far more tense push and darker hues coloring in "Culling" and dreary hooks of "A Series of Rooms" (not to mention its randomly crazy, ranting/raving part that could've came from a Robbers or Tom Waits track).

Though the Cast Before the Break's aforementioned EP really felt like C-league imitation material, Still shows the band stepping it up substantially. A much more dexterous mish-mash of recognizable sounds and inspirations from the last decade and change, atmospheric emo and post-rock fanboys should find plenty of worth in this.

The Hill
To Believe in Something