What makes a good driving song? There are entire playlists and CD mixtapes dedicated to catering the perfect experience as you wind your way through the sea cliffs on the coast or cruise for hours on the highways spanning the Midwest United States – or even just driving to the grocery store on a summer day. The only thing that seems to unite the mood of driving songs is that they need to be good songs to listen to on a warm day nearing the height of summer. “Shine for Me” by Castle Finn is a chilled-out summertime groove that makes for perfect driving music. It doesn’t shy away from this impression, with lines that mention the ocean:

“We went swimming in the sea
A wave came over me
Underwater I could see
Taken with the undertow
I could see the life below.”

The best part of the song is by far the twangy guitar riff that comes at the end of the chorus – though I would swear that the riff is the chorus, and the lyrics are only the pre-chorus, it stands out so much. In some ways, “Shine for Me” is reminiscent of “Dark Night” by The Blasters, though it is far more upbeat and introduces electronic components that would offend The Blasters’ old school sensibilities!

My favorite lyrical area of the song, though, is the one that does seem to harken back to that style of music: the very beginning of the song. With lyrics that once again make mention of warm weather and peaceful, happy times:

“I smell the rain on the pavement
A rainbow in the sky
Sun’s been out for days and days and days
But now it’s in my eyes.”

There is also a very real sense of the sun’s warmth and the comfort of the people that the singer is with as interchangeably fulfilling, with lines such as the titular “shine for me,” but also other mentions to the rainy, cloudy days of the first verse:

“Baby, don’t hide from me,
Won’t you smile?
Shine for me,
Be a child with me.”

Other Castle Finn songs keep a similar slow, chilled-out sensibility and drum pattern, but “When I see you again,” their other released track at the time of this review, is far more mournful and yearning that “Shine for Me.” In fact, it seems like the sort of song that would be played for the final dance at prom, or for the first dance at a wedding. It holds the same slow waltzing quality those songs seem to (though admittedly not as cheesy as many of those songs are).

“Shine for Me,” in contrast, is a song about happy times and the people who make it so. It brings us to a warm place amongst the sun and sand, and just to sit and tilt our head back as the wind whips past. Through those imagined sea cliffs once again.

Castle Finn is an emerging band from the Wabash Valley, led by multi-instrumentalist Patrick Murphy. Check out what Patrick has to say about his budding music career:

I heard you’re a new band. How did all this come together?

I’ve always sought other musicians around me and made it a point to jam and improvise which has shaped my music big time. This is my first real go at songwriting though. So far, I write as a one man band; I write and record every instrument. My close friends, who are also musicians, encourage me and we put the work in when we get together. We play music every time and we share feedback on each other’s stuff. I collaborate with a couple other projects regularly: Woven Hollow and Nate Staub. We get together and perform each others’ music and they’ve expanded my songwriting hugely.

This my dream and I can’t believe I’m doing it. It’s scary as all hell, in a good way. I’m very exciting to see where it goes…

What sort of things do you turn to for creative inspiration?

Without a doubt, nature is the greatest source of inspiration for me. I’m into Native American and Pagan spirituality and I meditate. I feel pulled to express that abstract experience, the interconnection of energy that’s perfect in nature in so many forms: micro- and macro-cosms, patterns, and living creatures. I make music to reflect that psychedelia.

Where does the funky soul come from? It’s a cool edge for indie rock.

Thank you, I’m glad you asked about that. I am such a huge fan of motown music, especially the bass lines from James Jamerson. My heart is there, so naturally my music is too. The bass lines are key to that.

Tell us a little about “Shine for Me”.

You know the feeling when life feels drab and all you want is some sunshine to dry it all up, to feel fresh again? It’s about finding that release in a special moment with the help of a friend.  I tell it as a story about a day trip, an adventure with good friends, which unfolds in the verses. There’s something very visceral about it, the narrator is going through an emotional time and has a breakthrough, an epiphany while surfing.

I couldn’t help but notice you listed White Denim as an artist you like. What is it about them you admire, and what other artists are you drawn to?

I stumbled across White Denim, headed to the bathroom, at the Monolith Fest at Red Rocks in 2008. I left my group because I had to see the rest of their performance. They were a trio then, they were amazingly tight and fast but also “hot and loose” at the same time. They have such a raw and rockin’, yet soulful energy that I really dig. I really admire Patrelli’s vocals and guitar work. You might notice a little Allman Bro’s and White Denim-esque guitar licks in the chorus.

My long-time favorites are Spoon, Wilco, Calexico, Dr. Dog, My Morning Jacket and Andrew Bird. Lately, I’ve been digging Damien Jurado, Jonathon Wilson, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, and Jungle.

What is the music scene or community like from your side of Illinois?

We have some great acts in Champaign-Urbana. My favorite venue there is probably the Rose Bowl, those guys are super-dedicated to live, original music. C-U has multiple music festivals throughout the year hosting local and national acts. There is also a healthy underground music scene happening in basements and house parties. Here in my hometown of Paris, Lot 50 Brewing is a great venue for local musicians for gigs and open mic nights.

Can we expect more releases this year? Singles, EP, or album?

Yes you can expect more. I’ll be releasing at least 5 more songs this year, if all goes to plan. I’m hoping there will be enough for an album before 2021. We shall see!

Is there anything you’d like to shout out to fans at home?

I want to say —  buckle up guys, this is the beginning.  I want to thank my friends, fans, and family who’ve been so supportive. I hope they know how important they are to me.

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