CD Review: Tommy Castro and the Pain Killers

Tommy Castro: The Devil You Know

The Devil You Know is an unusual album…in a good way. Typically we see albums that rely solely on catch phrases and simple lyrics so that people will continue singing them long after they’ve heard the song. I mean it’s good business right? Coooostanza. (Anyone?) Tommy Castro and the Pain Killers instead offer us an album that is well written, thought out and really well-played. That’s not to say that the album is everything it could have been.

There is a sense of honesty and commitment to the tracks Castro was involved in

Castro brings the heat to The Devil You Know with a fiery guitar and seasoned vocals. With the addition of Marcia Ball, Samantha Fish, Tasha Taylor and Tab Benoit many of the tracks are enjoyable, but not so much that any of the tracks feel overly memorable. Part of the problem was that some of the “duos” didn’t feel like duos so much as they did artists providing chorus or minimal back up vocals. Keeping in mind the album is Tommy Castro and the Pain Killers not Tommy Castro and Friends I suppose one can’t complain too much. However, one can’t help but feel like an opportunity was missed.

The Devil You KnowThe mix is as clean as the production is relaxing. The production of this album is good as you’ll find on any of your favorite CD’s. Each instrument works in unison never quite overshadowing another, with the vocals holding just enough attention. I did find myself questioning some of the arrangements, but I can forgive that since the last thing I arranged was a bus ticket to St. Louis. The surprising thing for me was how I could tell the tracks that were either written or co-written by Castro. There is a sense of honesty and commitment to the tracks Castro was involved in that you don’t see from a lot of artists anymore.

Among those is “Greedy,” a popular single, if you believe its 160,000 hits on YouTube. For many of us in the “99%,” it promotes an idea we can all get behind: a common enemy. It is one of the few songs on the album that was on the verge memorable during our listen. Center Of Attention is another track that stands out, because of the repetition of its title. Its repetition is what makes it forgettable; saying it so much it becomes something that is just there. A lot like white noise. In many ways that becomes a great description of the album, enjoyable white noise. I won’t lie, I’m pretty happy with that. One song worth mentioning (since we mentioned it in another review recently) is She Wanted To Give It To Me, a track that puts it right out there without beating around the bush with double entendre, as an adult, I can dig it.

It’s a solid enough disc and it’ll keep you going while you do what you’re doin’ what you’re doin’.

The Devil You Know is wrought with attacking guitars and an enjoyable mix of simple ideas with complex writing. It’s an interesting album to listen to, but there is a distinct lack of memorable hooks. It’s not a good or bad thing; it’s just a thing. It become the kind of album that you can work and jam to without it being distracting. Work on cars? Awesome, this is your album. Doing design work? Awesome, this is an album for you. It’s a solid enough disc and it’ll keep you going while you do what you’re doin’ what you’re doin’.



Aaron Porter is a multimedia artist with a degree in Film and Animation. He has worked as a layout artist for Buddy Guys Legends for the last years as well as creating numerous works of art for the club. He also created Creepy Animals Alphabet Book an alphabet book for kids and adults alike at

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