Music » Critics' Picks

Castanets / Shapes & Sizes

9 p.m. Wednesday, March 21. Off Broadway (3509 Lemp Avenue).

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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.

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