car city BY car city
ALBUM: CAR CITY (9 song EP)
BAND: CAR CITY
Plant Music Record
reviewed by nadja dee
I was contacted by Jason Lemke who leads a band from Wisconsin called Car City. They had just released their 9 song EP by the same name and wanted Hop On Power Pop to review it. So now that the busy Halloween season is over, here's my review on Car City by Car City.
First, as Jon Brion has said before, an EP that's 9 songs long, you're in danger of not being an EP but an LP. I agree. However, since this is the first release from Car City, it's not necessarily a bad thing to get so many songs.
The album starts off with CONNECTING THE DOTS, one of the EPs strongest tracks. It's a catchy lead track that sets the tone for the album, with a catchy chorus. The album is tagged within the genres of Pop Punk, Power Pop, Punk. But I sense a distinct southern or country vibe to their songs, almost like every song has been deep fried in a southern spice. It's an interesting flavor to add.
The drumming by Amos Pitsch is definitely from the Ringo Starr school of backbeat. It's a solid, driving beat, that's anything but showy. I felt like the drums really held the songs together without calling attention to themselves.
I have one slight complaint that the bass guitar gets a bit buried, muddied in the mix at times. I've listened to this album now in my car to at home with a proper stereo mix and I still feel the same way. But, that's a small complaint.
LIKE A WAVE follows and continues much of the same. Then comes HOPELESS which definitely earns the album a PG-13 (NSFW) rating because of the focus of the word "as$hole," which had me laughing out loud. In most powerpop, you hear somewhat happy positive songs or lyrics and not such a self-deprecating tone. The song veers from the Punk/Power/Pop format and reminded me a little bit of a 50s vibe, something that would probably sound good in acapella. Something along the lines of Billy Joel's Longest Time. But again, reinforcing my feeling of a country flavor seasoning.
Although DON'T GIVE UP ON LOVE starts off with a delicious Beach Boys intro, I wouldn't have been surprised if DON'T GIVE UP ON LOVE had Weird Al as a guest musician. It's got that fun, playful sound to it.
CHALLENGER could be a song by Green Day, and it earns Car City EP the labeling of Punk Pop. Even the singing style has Billie Joe Armstrong written all over it. It's one of my favorite tracks on the album but also not as in the center of Power Pop as most of the album, unless the Power was turned up to an 11!
The album ends with SOUL JAM a tight 2 & 1/2 minute rocker, which left me wanting more. It didn't feel like the album had ended, or it ended too soon without an ending song. Maybe if the album had ended with HOPELESS, it would have felt more like a closure. It also could be because it's a rather short 9 song album.
I need to mention the album cover, the claymation characters of the band members really won me over. It's not only a nice concept that was very well executed by a combination of Amos Pitsch, clay models built by Matt Stranger, and based on drawings by Yusuke Okada. Brilliantly executed and fits the tone very well. (I'm waiting for a claymation video by way of Will Vinton or Nick Park's Aardman Studios.)
Overall the album gave me a sense of the energy of the early Beatles era, perhaps when they were still The Silver Beatles. The energy of Car City feels raw and young, which is what I want from my Power Pop and the backing harmonies are strong. However, in full confession, it took me a few listens to Car City before it grew on me but that's also because there's a lot of amazing Power Pop music coming out right now (Kai Danzberg, The Pop Cycle, Vegas With Randolph, to name a few). Car City by Car City has the feel of a band like Teenage Fanclub, a touch of Green Day and an Evan Dando meets Rhett Miller vibe to it.
THANKS to CAR CITY for reaching out to HOP ON POWER POP!
DISCLAIMER: HOP ON POWER POP doesn't give stars, a grade or any sort of quantifiable rating. What HOP ON POWER POP does is let you know what HOPP thought of the music by the band at this particular time. If an album isn't to our liking or fitting into the Power Pop genre enough, we simply won't review it.