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
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.
Related artist(s): Carsick Cars
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more
Zamla Mammaz Manna - För äldre nybegynnare / Schlagerns mystik / Familjesprickor – For my money, SZamla incarnation number two was their prime and despite the fact we have to pay Japanese prices for Swedish CDs (all done by Silence) these are extremely well worth the wait. Zamla is... (1994) » Read more