Saturday, September 24, 2011

Built On a Weak Spot- "Spirit of the West" LP review


It’s been awhile since I’ve last heard from west coasters High Castle. Their previous release, You’re on Your Own Way, was a one-sided 12” back in ‘09 through Zum that was littered with spazzy post-punk goodness. However, since then things have been kind of quiet, which seems a bit odd to say when putting that in context with their music. Although, maybe I wasn’t looking in the right places to begin with. But all of that doesn’t really matter now as the band has returned with their debut full-length Spirit of the West to be released this month once again through Zum.

A lot of what made their previous EP so good is put to fine use here on Spirit of the West. While incorporating the same general rousing brand of thorny post-punk, the band has seemed to have decided to expand some on their typical minute to minute and a half template they had been previously working within. It’s nice to see, and with that, High Castle choose to lay down some serious riffing among their quick and pissed approach. They chew up two to three minutes with ease by simply letting up some while still coming off as motivated and contentious as ever. I’m also finding myself really digging the production and guitar tone of the album. It seems rawer than anything they’ve done yet and greatly adds to their general feel of discontent thanks in part to it. The drums have a very natural live sound to them and putting them as far up front as they are, they turn out to be pretty much the driving factor here with an absolutely punishing pounding attack for all eleven tracks. I’d hate to say I’m surprised by this, because everything up until this point from High Castle has been quality, but this album rips in a way I wasn’t expecting I guess. Plus, I really had no idea it was coming out. A nice step up, no doubt.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Zum Anniversary Show Review

Zum Anniversary Show with KIT, High Castle, Core of the Coalman, Dunes, and More

Categories: Over the Weekend

"The night's pinnacle act was undoubtedly High Castle, which played with unmatched precision and intensity. Spastic and frenzied, the Oakland trio unleashed a prototype of punk experimentation made only for the strong of heart. The band smashed out squeaky screamed call-and-response vocals, tight pounded rhythms, and guitar work that moved from heavy and brooding to screeching weirdness in seconds. The performance fell somewhere in between chaotic and ordered. If you haven't seen this band yet, do yourself a favor and do so."

High Castle


High Castle: Wailing, beat-driven punk band


August 05, 2010|By Michelle Broder Van Dyke

  • web link
    High Castle
    Credit: Dalton Blanco

This beat-driven punk band - whose name was inspired by Philip K. Dick's "The Man in the High Castle" - came together in 2007. The plan was to be a pop band, but instead they churn out raw and rough stuff. All three members sing - or, more accurately, shout - together in a cacophonous harmony on top of scuzzy guitars and pounding drums.

The Oakland trio's EP, "You're on Your Own Way," was released by Zum records; Saturday's show is a 12th anniversary party for the label. The second-to-last track on the EP, "Are Fixed Gear Tricksters the New Rollerbladers?" opens with confrontational drumming that melts into a sludgy rhythm topped with the band's three-way wails. The band's "Small Town Gay Bar" is a fuzzy mess of smashing tom-toms and fuzzed-up shrieks.

We're looking forward to High Castle's first full-length.

Lineup: Shaggy Denton, drums and vocals; Wilson Drozdowski, bass and vocals; Erin Allen, guitar and vocals.

Check it out:,,

Next gig: 7 p.m. Sat. $10. With Core of the Coalman, Kit, Dalton Bros, Huts, Mincemeat or Tenspeed and Dunes. 21 Grand, 416 25th St., Oakland. (510) 444-7263,

- Michelle Broder Van Dyke,

SF Bay Guardian
“If Mincemeat or Tenspeed's noise Ouroboros encircles hardcore, their Zum
labelmates High Castle (note the initials) use it for rocket fuel. The band
shares the bill for tomorrow's show at the Stud Bar with Mincemeat, but invites
comparison with late-1990s punk, though it's hard to point to a single band.
Easier to call out the signs: the trio takes their name from a Philip K. Dick novel,
sings in unison without harmonies, features aggressive but rhythmically elastic
drumming, and named their best song "Filth." Fidelity-wise, High Castle's debut
12" You're on Your Own Way sounds damp and fuzzy, like the band (all three
members are So Cal natives) is trying to thrash their way to heat. Though the
band's lo-fi production style sounds rote, the way they're pulling inspiration from
neglected corners of underground rock gives a different impression.”
- 1/27/10 Brandon Bussolini


Thrasher Magazine
Nov. 2009 issue
"The new High Castle 12" EP is pretty brutal throughout, metal and HC tinged,
but it still finds these weird little spazzy, jazzy grooves in spots. Maybe it's art
rock? Whatever you want to call it, it's geting some turntable time, and with a
song titled 'Are Fixed Gear Tricksters the New Rollerbladers?' I think you get an
idea where they stand. It's on Zum Records, and I think it's the band's debut."
– Wez Lundry’s “Strange Notes” column

Brontosonix Review

Brontosonix (
Chris Sabbath

“After much anticipation back here on the farm, San Francisco's High Castle
finally lays waste to our ailing domes, hurling shambles of seared bomb shrapnel
and noisey, mangled debris in our direction with their 12" debut, You're On Your
Own Way. Then again, we wouldn't have expected any less from a group of folks
who've reigned destruction up and down the Golden State in bands such as Child
Pornography, Duchesses, Saboteurs, and Work, but amongst all, the Castles
are definitely numero uno in our book these days. Pressed in a small batch of

500 copies, this saucer of blistered wax offers seven, fierce blasts to the gods
of scuzz, as the three melt a sheet of blown fuses and cracked speaker cones
over an ash-coated landscape of damaged jams. As drummer, Shaggy Denton
massacres her kit, bruising and bashing away in a Boredoms-like hallucination,
as Wilson Drozdowski unloads a hail of rusted bass, all but swallowing his mic as
he howls into it. Same goes for Erin Allen, who as guitarist/singer, spits electric
venom from his fried amp, lashing his callused fingers down the frets, while
screaming above the blackened crust. Songs like "Solomon" and "No Mind" are
caked in filth, all barbaric and churned out with a frayed intensity that flashes
back to the heyday of '90's underground punk, when Unwound and Red Scare
were still ruling the roost. Gotta say many thanks to George Chen and the rest of
the Zum stable for once again delivering the goods at 45RPM.”

Tome To The Weather Machine Review

You're On Your Way

Finally, the Tome is bringing some noise. While the Tome output has mostly centered around some pretty quiet, pretty pretty bands and musicians, with Crawf's last "Throne of Bone" post and the new High Castle EP, the Tome is about to be flooded with some long overdue ear canal destruction. Hailing from San Francisco, High Castle is a three-piece unit that has a sound equivalent to a giant shark destroying the Golden Gate Bridge in just one bite. High Castle play punk-rock in the way it was meant to be played, loud, short and with the energy of an ADHD 12 year old. Taking cues from a earlier-noisier Times New Viking, High Castles dual vocals are cloaked beneath a downright vicious wall of noise that does not leave an ounce of space for ponderous drum breakdowns or half time chord progressions. It is all go all the time. The drumming has the same kind of depth and in your face brutality that keep bands like Unwound and Lightning Bolt blowing young kids minds today. High Castle is punk rock stripped down to the bare essentials. The guitar provide a necessary underpinning of discordance and distortion while the true heroes of the band, the drum and the voice, go to town all over what used to be your nice new stereo. "Frentic", like Jimmy Stewart on crank is a take away point. Loud is another. But with all my talk about loud and frentic, High Castle makes it a point to wrap all of this within one killer pop hook after another. "Are Fixed Gear Tricksters the New Rollerbladers?" gets my vote for song title of the year.

Ryan H.
September 3rd, 2009

Built On A Weak Spot Review

High Castle – You’re On Your Own Way 12” (one sided)

castle1 High Castle   Youre On Your Own Way 12 (one sided)

castle2 High Castle   Youre On Your Own Way 12 (one sided)

Some wildly disjointed noisy post-punk here from San Fran’s High Castle. They had been previously touring behind the weight of a self-released demo CD-R, however have just released their debut EP You’re On Your Own Way through Zum as a one sided 12’’. Containing 7 tunes in just less than 12 minutes, this thing flies by but is in every way effective. I liken it to the time when a supercell dropped a very brief tornado right outside my neighborhood. It sounded like a mammoth vacuum approaching, however I knew it wasn’t vacuum and seconds late the power went out. High Castle are of the same breed blasting through with relentless deep pummeling drums and an eerie but effective guitar buzz that is gone with a blink of an eye however leaving a definite impression. It’s not pretty but it’s pretty fuckin’ enjoyable if you’re into the weirder noisy rock. It comes in nice silk screened packaging which is a bit hypnotizing when looked at.

High Castle – Are Fixed Gear Tricksters The New Rollerbladers? [MP3]

For those interested in picking up You’re On Your Own Way, then just head on over to Zum to pick it up. Well worth it. Enjoy!

20 Jazz Funk Greats Track Review


High Castle- We Can’t Dance With Jesus

We surrender rapturously to the low frequency onslaught from High Castle, a vertebrae-injury friendly supergroup hailing from SF. ‘We Can’t Dance with Jesus’ has been pumped with so much fuzz that stepping inside its zone of nasty feels like being nailed to the front of a custom-made cholo dragster jacked by a bunch of cranked-up noise gremlins and deployed to ultimate effects in the busy arcades of a suburban shopping mall while Satan’s Cheerleaders do pirouettes on the sides. It’s kind of pop like that, you know.

Show Review

Last Night: Abe Vigoda, Lovvers, High Castle at Bottom of the Hill

Categories: Last Night

Eric Lawson
High Castle

Abe Vigoda, Lovvers, High Castle
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Bottom of the Hill

Better than: Sitting at home watching the Oscars.

Last night was a sleepy Sunday at Bottom of the Hill. Scrawny, hip kids shuffled around the venue, most of them looking like they were pushing 17 years of age. The vibe was very reminiscent of a house show, a laid back affair where these youngsters stood politely and stared attentively at the bands on stage, quietly bopping along to the fast-paced drum beats and snarling guitar riffs.

Eric Lawson
High Castle

​The first to take the stage was Oakland-based High Castle, a trio of screeching punks, wailings guitars, and pounding drums. (The girl on the skins could especially rage). There's been some hype surrounding High Castle, and it's safe to say the band lived up to it last night - cranking the volume, yelling over one another into the mics, and delivering some seriously noisy guitar shredding.

SF Weekly

Openers: Get There Early For High Castle
high small castle.jpg
We've had it with pretty. We've had it with cute. We've had it with autoharp, vocal harmonies, and the acoustic guitar.

This week, we're arriving early for punk -- the fuzzed-out, gutter-pitched mayhem of Oakland trio High Castle, who are opening Abe Vigoda's show Sunday night at Bottom of the Hill.

Lots of bands are out there giving the p-word a bad name, but High Castle's music preaches the chaotic faith with rabid devotion.

The boys smash their tom-toms and down-tuned strings into blunt, sludgy rhythms that sound like an Olympia-bred Mission of Burma, or a clumsier Sonic Youth. All three members sing -- well, shout -- in a cacophonous racket that's both abrasive and wry in the way Gang of Four was. "Are Fixed Gear Tricksters...?" opens with a punishing, pounding confrontation that bumps into a blown-out post-punk groove before stopping to slap you in the face. Trust us -- their grit will feel good after all that so-called Noise Pop.

High Castle
at Bottom of the Hill 3/7
with Abe Vigoda and Lovvers

Pitchfork Playlist

Friday, July 31, 2009

High Castle's debut EP is an exercise in brevity-- one side, seven songs, and 12 minutes worth of tribal, frantic post-punk. Keeping things short allows the California trio to pound away without risking tedium, more often than not leaving you wanting more. And despite the band's love of repetition, they pack a decent bit of variety into tiny spaces. "Filth" is literally crammed, with different lyrics howled by two overlapping vocalists, so the words actually take longer to read on paper than they do to sing. What exactly the group is singing about isn't clear, but it's something ugly-- dogs ruling the earth, trash piled to the sun, filth which "accumulates disease of squalor." The meaning may lie more in the sound than the sense, as the band's mash of Lightning Bolt speed, Boredoms dementia, and Black Eyes shout make it all seem like a pretty big emergency. Maybe that's why they're in such a hurry to get things over with, but "Filth"'s spilling energy also suggests High Castle have a lot more of these blasts in store.

MP3: High Castle: "Filth"

— Marc Masters, July 31, 2009

Dusted: Still Single - Review

July 19, 2009

High Castle – You’re On Your Own Way one-sided 12” EP (Zum)

High Castle 12"

Full-forward agitpunk, circa the late ‘90s dream, is the agenda for San Francisco’s High Castle, a bright and spastic shove from behind into churning, machine-like, attenuated pummel. Drums pound on every beat, cemented in by buzzing blankets of guitar and bass, punctuated by defiant, sing-shouted vocals. It’s fun, it’s nostalgic, it’s cool to hear a post-punk band giving this much thought to the whys, and not just the hows. Plus they ask the tough questions, like “Are Fixed Gear Tricksters the New Rollerbladers?” The answer is YES. Sounds great on vinyl as well, short songs given the bolster of 45 RPMs. About 500 pressed, intricate two-color silkscreened sleeves wrap it all up. (
(Doug Mosurock)

SF Bay Guardian Article - Jan 2009

It's a hit

Getting high on Bay Area combo High Castle's damaged style
Up, up, up ...

I'm glad I finally got my mitts on the self-issued CD-R from San Francisco titans High Castle: I feel like I'm back in ear-bleeding country with the trio's Unwound-ishly, damaged style of noisy rock, nursing an insatiable appetite for more tinfoil-scorched guitar scuzz, blown-out low end, and full-tilt drum thwackage. As each song unloads, three howling voices punctuate the maelstrom. Try if you can to pass on this seven-song album after just one spin. If the punked-out oomph of "Soloman" and "No Mind" don't bite you hard in the ass, then the annihiutf8g whomp of "Small Town Gay Bar" will certainly dish out the finishing touches.

As surprising as it may sound, this shower of pandemonium comes from three individuals who had their hearts set on becoming a pop group when they first convened in the summer of 2007. I yapped it up with the threesome over bowls of fideo and garlicky steak fries in drummer-vocalist Shaggy Denton's SoMa apartment, while bassist-vocalist Wilson Drozdowski explained that High Castle aimed at becoming an actual band within the trio's large circle of noise-making friends.

"We were like, 'let's start a rock band,' because I felt I hadn't seen a drum-bass-guitar band with songs in a long time," he disclosed. "It seemed like it was either improv or noise, so we wanted to do the opposite of that to see what would happen."

"We actually wanted it to be a pop band," said guitarist-vocalist Erin Allen with a laugh.

"None of us knew how to write pop music, so what ended up coming out was the closest we could get to doing that," Drozdowski continued. "Even when we try to write something that we think is poppy, it's not poppy in the traditional sense. We always try and make the vocals very apparent by singing together."

"I guess that's the one pop element that surfaces," Allen added. "But it's not like the Mamas and the Papas."

Before HC, all three resided in Southern California, meeting through tours in bands such as Duchesses, Saviors, and Child Pornography. As Drozdowski, Denton, and Allen became jaded with the SoCal lifestyle, each separately trekked up to the Bay Area because, according to Denton, "the option was LA or here — and it was not going to be LA."

Reuniting in San Francisco with each member's respective group in limbo, the three formed HC, but not before putting the collaboration on hold because of an unfortunate encounter between Allen and a car.

"We had to take a break because this one got hit by a car," Denton joked, pointing to Allen. "He was supposed to come over to my house and have some fideo and play PlayStation. I was worried because I kept getting the answering machine, and then somebody from General Hospital calls me and is like, 'Um, do you know an Erin Allen? He told me to give you a message: he got hit by a car.'"

Aside from Allen's slight dinger, the combo has been very active during the past year and a half, playing in just about every performance space dotting the Bay Area underground music scene with the likes of K.I.T., Stripmall Seizures, and Death Sentence: Panda! HC is currently in the mixing stages of its 12-inch debut for the Zum imprint, and after embarking on its first national tour last summer, the group hopes to hit the road once again this year. Whatever avenue this threesome decides to explore in the future — be it noisesome or poppy — I know I'll be all ears.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

under construction. compiling stuff... coming soon...