The CofC-born band Sandcastle leans heavily into 1990s alt-rock on the debut LP, San Diego Wild Animal Park | Ashley Rose Stanol

Guitarists Remy Clark and Justin Garrison were roommates at the College of Charleston in 2017 when they planted the seeds for a band that would become Sandcastle, a local four-piece that recently dropped a new album on July 1 called San Diego Wild Animal Park

The group is a swirl of noisy guitars and laconic vocals, liberally riffing on ’80s indie and ’90s alt-rock with touches of post-punk, surf or psych-pop depending on the mood.

The two roommates quickly bonded over their shared love of loud and brash indie rock, Clark told City Paper.

“We would just sit around playing covers and stuff all day,” Clark recalled, citing The Strokes as a frequent selection alongside cherished favorites like Pavement, Dinosaur Jr. and the Pixies.

And although Clark had already tried his hand at songwriting before, the idea of actually becoming a band was a gradual one. The two first met bassist Josh Butler and then drummer John Cantor and started jamming together as Sandcastle in 2019, developing ideas and trying to get a sense of the music they wanted to make. 

Clark, who originally was the primary songwriter until things became more collaborative, said the band initially had a jammier, harder rock instrumental approach in the early days and now the group leans toward a “grungier, more punk” side of the sound spectrum. 

That full range is evident on San Diego Wild Animal Park. Instrumentals like the title track and “Scurvy” hint at that earlier identity, while tracks like “Day by Day” and “Lucky Cigarette” are immersive, hazy alt-pop reminiscent of Brooklyn dream rockers Beach Fossils. And, of course, there’s more straight-ahead tracks like the grungy “Echo.”

The band worked for nearly a year doing various sessions at Truphonics Studios in West Ashley to craft a polished, fully-realized effort. The new album represents a transitional phase for the group, which hopes to have an EP out later this year documenting a different sound.

“We got pretty brutally nitpicky against ourselves and might have gotten a little overly detail-oriented,” Clark admitted about the Animal Park recording. 

The new material is less about the instrumental showcases and more about the attitude and atmosphere that Sandcastle’s alt-rock influences have exuded over the years.  

“We’re starting to embrace [those influences] a lot more on these new songs,” Clark said.

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