Exposé Online banner

Carsick Cars — 3
(Tenzenmen 158tzm, 2014, CD)

Flavor Crystals / Carsick Cars — Mirror in My Mind / Yoko (Split 7")
(Tenzenmen 150tzm, 2014, 7")

by Jon Davis, Published 2014-08-11

3 Cover artMirror in My Mind / Yoko (Split 7

A change in personnel for Carsick Cars has not resulted in a change of style — singer/guitarist Zhang Shouwang remains the driving force of the band. 3 is perhaps more refined than the first two releases, but retains the combination of wall-of-sound guitar and catchy melodies, but with a more polished sound. There's been 100% turnover in the rhythm section, with He Fan covering bass and Sun Heting drums, both of whom had made names for themselves in other bands (Birdstriking and Boyz & Girl respectively). The album was recorded in New York, and once again features some lyrics in English and some in Chinese (and on the CD, one of the bonus tracks is a Chinese version of "15 Minutes Older," which appeared previously in English). And while the music is indeed more accessible than previous outings, it's still far from mainstream, even mainstream pop-punk (Green Day and the like). There are some really nice guitar arrangements, with Zhang putting down multiple parts with different tones and different voicings for the chords, and often working harmonics into the sound. The instrumental track "The Best VPN So Far" (a title that will amuse anyone who's lived or traveled in China) is the most unusual track, with some great backwards effects and thunderous drums leading into a propulsive rhythm and all sorts of different noises from the guitar. When deciding if 3 is the band's best effort, I hesitate because I like the others so much, and in all fairness, they're aimed in a slightly different direction now, perhaps a bit less experimental, but more solid and relatable. There's enough art here to please someone who has long tired of the same old thing over and over again. When they throw out something downright freaky like the bass/guitar harmonies on "Reaching the Light," I know I've found something that will last.

Also on offer from Carsick Cars in 2014, we have a split 7" single with Minneapolis psych band Flavor Crystals. The Cars' contribution, a previously unreleased track called "Yoko," is of a piece with 3. It's a catchy, energetic tune with unusual chords and features a piano part. I can't make sense of the lyrics, but it's a fun song. I'd never heard of Flavor Crystals before listening to "Mirror in My Mind," but going on this example, they are a good example of contemporary American psychedelia, along the lines of The Black Angels, though with a hint of a krautrock influence. They're definitely worth investigating.


Filed under: New releases, 2014 releases

Related artist(s): Carsick Cars

More info
http://tenzenmen.bandcamp.com/album/carsick-cars-flavour-crystals
http://tenzenmen.bandcamp.com/album/3-cd

Latest news

2017-11-16
Celebrate 10 Years of Fruits de Mer – As a special celebration for a decade of cool vinyl releases, our friends at Fruits de Mer records have prepared a limited edition reissue of an album by the first band ever to appear on the label: Schizo Fun Addict. The band is known for unusual release strag » Read more

2017-11-02
Mega Dodo Presents New Charity Album – Our friends at Mega Dodo have put together a lovely compilation of their artists performing new arrangements of nursery rhymes, and all the profits from sales of the album will benefit Save the Children. It features a number of artists we've covered. » Read more

2017-10-18
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more

2017-10-13
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more

2017-09-26
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Jon Anderson - The More You Know – I knew there was something fishy about this CD when I looked at the song lengths - all are nearly identical. Pre-planned? Hmmmm, could be. After six solo releases since 1994, a vacation in Bermuda...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues