“Embers in the Ash” new single (released March 10, 2020)
A post-Covid lullaby, Embers in the Ash leads off the 2023 edition of Mighty Joe Castro & the Gravamen’s ongoing love letter to mid-century Rock-a-billy Americana. Authentically captured in the waning hours of the 2022 winter solstice, this is perhaps Castro’s finest work to date, inspiring flashes of John Prine, Tom Waits, and Shane MacGowen. Produced by Brian McTear & Amy Morrissey at Miner Street Recordings, Philadelphia (War on Drugs, Kurt Vile, Sharon Van Etten).
Vintage Style, Not Vintage Values.
Audio (“Come On Angels!” debut album)
Mighty Joe Castro’s essay on Rockabilly Against Racism from American Blues Scene
“Philly-based singer-songwriter Mighty Joe Castro would fit right in at the Twin Peaks roadhouse. His retro-rock stylings channel the uneasy underbelly of 1950s American life; think equal parts film noir and Chris Isaak’s “Baby Did A Bad Bad Thing,” a vibe that perfectly coalesces in his new music video for “There Are No Secrets Here.” – John Vettese, WXPN’s The Key.
“Meet the group that’s taking rock-n-roll out of the museum and breathing in new life” – Philadelphia Weekly
“…all original tracks with a strong set of lyrics. Spanning a broad mix of styles, this unique debut LP deserves to be heard” – Vintage Rock Magazine
“Mighty Joe Castro and the Gravamen are like Salvidor Dali – weird in a way but genius. A fantastic album” – Slap That Bass Reviews
“Mighty Joe Castro & The Gravamen is one of those bands that gently reminds you that rock and roll, given its simple and humble beginnings and ancestors, both white and black, should never get too pretentious or suffer any feelings of self-importance. To do so means that it has strayed from its spiritual base and will likely lose its power with its perspective listeners to inspire and make them want to sing along, to make them laugh and cry, and to make them irresistibly want to smile and move various parts of their body. Fortunately for us, Castro and his band with an affecting passion, do all three with Come On, Angels!” – Americana Highways
“From its title track — equal parts whiskey-soaked lament and feel-good song of the summer (and fall and winter) — to the Beach Boys-level harmonies on “Whispering Hell,” Mighty Joe Castro & The Gravamen represent a patchwork of the sounds and cultures that made me fall in love with music to begin with.” – American Blues Scene
“9/10 – If they ever remake the movie “The Outsiders”, it would be wise to have Mighty Joe Castro and the Gravamen soundtrack it as their aesthetic, vision and quality of song craft certainly warrants it.” – Take Effect Reviews
“Mighty Joe Castro & The Gravamen has delivered a winner with their first album. Their sound is familiar, without being derivative, and the group shows a real love of the material from rock and roll’s golden age. Well worth a listen.” – Blinded by Sound
“Top to bottom I really enjoyed this album. Each song feels like a character in a Raymond Chandler novel and taken together, they tell the kind of story that sticks in your head for a while, rattling around in moments when you’re left to your own thoughts. I was taken off guard by the depth and breadth of the music here. It’s the kind of multi-genre album that feels vibrant and classic at the same time… ” – Shouting Street
“A cross between Stray Cats and Chris Isaak, a combination of jubilation and emotional darkness.. and by God it works.” – The Rock Doctor
“There is a lot to love here, from the slightly sinister album started, “There Are No Secrets Here,” to the BeachBoys-esque doo-wop howl in “Whispering Hell,” to the folk narrative in “June (90 Degrees) and the sweet and sensitive guitar work of “Better Hold Tight.” It’s classic Americana through a post-modern lens.” – Philadelphia Globe
“We reckon these guys are fantastic live, and the energy that the song exhudes is absolutely brilliant. It’s great to hear something like this in a world where traditional rock ‘n’ roll seems to be quite rare” – York Calling
“…lovingly recreates the wild sexuality, aggression, and just plain weirdness of early rock’n’roll with an updated sensibility.” – Adobe and Teardrops
“(this music) is authentic!” – GrungeCake
“Mighty Joe Castro and the Gravamen was good fun too. Propelled by frontman Castro’s animated gestures — which included jumps, head-jerks, hand-claps and broad swings of his arms — they did a fine job of energizing the crowd and coaxing the dancers out into the light of the stagefront.” – Americana Highways
“…a fantastic collection of rockabilly songs that are a joy for your earholes” – Shouting Street (Best of 2019 List)
“Sounds good to us!” – Disarm Magazine
“de lo mejorcito que se puede escuchar en este año” (“the best that can be heard this year”) – Mito Cadiscos dual.
“…the sound works really well. It’s jangly and fun; it’s got a simple but rewarding message about staying in someone’s mind even if things don’t work out. Yup, I can relate.” – Ear to the Ground Music
Based out of Philadelphia, PA, Ameripolitan rockabilly outfit, Mighty Joe Castro & The Gravamen is the latest musical project from accomplished collage artist and musician Joe Castro (ex-The Situation, The Lift Up). Influenced by 50’s Rock and Roll and infused with post modern Easter eggs cribbed from old episodes of MTV’s 120 Minutes, Mighty Joe Castro takes a modern, lyric driven approach to songwriting while The Gravamen layer on Jesus and Mary Chain-cover-Link Wray guitar atmosphere, booming doghouse bass and swinging beats. The quartet lurks at a crossroads where Sun Records and Creation Records meet.
According to Joe Castro: “Our goal is to play original rock-n-roll, in the style of the pioneers, but update it lyrically and sonically. Take what we’ve learned, everything great that’s come after and go apply it to that original sound. What if Buddy Holly had access to a stack of effects pedals and some Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds records? That’s the ethos of the band.”
The Gravamen were formed in 2017 after doghouse bassist H00V3r reached out to Castro about working together. H00V3r enlisted Dallas, his band mate in Philadelphia punk rock stalwarts Thorazine, to play drums and later found hot-shot lead guitarist Michael Stingle floating around Mount Airy. The full band held its first practice together in January 2018 and shortly after recorded their debut EP, Wake Up, You’re Rockin’! in May 2018. They released their debut full length album, “Come On Angels” on July 31, 2020. It was recorded at Miner Street Recordings and produced by Brian McTear (Sharon Van Etten, Dr Dog, Dead Milkmen).
Influences include Sun Records, Stray Cats, The Cramps, Hillbilly Moon Explosion, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and Los Lobos combined with elements of punk and shoegaze with a lyrical influence of Morrissey, Tom Waits, Nick Cave and Bob Dylan.