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Making It 

by JEFF ECHERT & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & I & lt;/span & t's easy to get jaded with the music business. With all of the morally questionable practices present in the industry at all levels, maintaining a desire to play music for music's sake is often an uphill battle, especially in the amoral jungle of Hollywood's scene, where Nate Cole and his band, Castledoor, transplanted to make it.

Cole started the band with his friend and guitarist Gabe Combs in northern California in early 2004. After making just a few bedroom demos, the band split. The move to Hollywood provided a few advantages -- namely a drummer, a bassist, and eventually a wife. (Keyboardist Lisa Cole, a Spokane native, was introduced to Nate Cole by former bandmate and current Oil of Angels member Adam Breeden.) There was also the expectation that Hollywood is a place that makes careers.

Disappointment, though, quickly followed. "It was really hard to get shows in town," Nate Cole says. "You come across situations where you have to pre-sell tickets or guarantee you can bring people to your shows. It seemed like a dirty game." Though Castledoor garnered a following and the friendship of other bands in the area, Hollywood wasn't a good place for them.

On the hunch that even slight alterations in geography can uncover opportunities, the band orchestrated a move. It wasn't huge but it made all the difference, the members finding respite in L.A.'s bohemian enclave, Silverlake. "We moved to Silverlake in 2006, and it feels like a different city," says Cole. "The music scene operates differently. It's just a group of people supporting each other." The cooperative culture lent Cole the optimism necessary to pursue Castledoor in earnest.

Castledoor's work is pop music with a heavy piano emphasis, but pop like the Beatles, not Gwen Stefani. Cole's musical influences are heavily Liverpudlian, though he professes a love for the Arcade Fire's debut record and the "spirit" of Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan, if not directly their lyrical styles. The band's pop sense is highly honed and unerring, a synth-filled affair with mellifluous vocals. Its latest seven-inch was in part engineered/produced by Earlimart front man Aaron Espinoza, and the clean, clear production style he's known for in his own work shines through.

The show itself is star-studded, and honestly, with Oil of Angels on the bill, you'd already do well to attend. But Castledoor just ups the ante. Cole himself makes a compelling argument for an admittedly conflict-ridden Friday evening, saying, "There's no chance of you seeing The Dark Knight -- it's going be sold out, you'll never get in -- so come see us instead." Sage advice.

Castledoor plays with Oil of Angels, Dane Ueland and Kaylee Cole at the Empyrean on July 18 at 8 pm. $7. Call 838-9819.
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