Carbon - 'Stand Up' (self released) 4/5
Now this lot are young, very young, all of them are only in their mid to late teens, but they have already built up enough of a reputation to get themselves management, equipment sponsorship and a following that assures them a healthy gigging schedule all around South Wales. So what are they doing right (besides being part of a very rich and thriving music scene)? Well a quick play this ep will answer a lot of questions.
Now the production here is best described as competent rather than great, the vocals especially could do with a bit of treatment to give them a bit more life; but that doesn't distract at all from the quality of whats on offer. We kick off with the title track which starts off with a nifty like riff that is almost Tom Petty style rock and roll with groovy lead line from guitarist Dan Phillips, then we get some almost Suede style vocals from singer Joe Llewellyn, all moody post Brit-pop attitude and an inverted James style chorus 'Stand up, stand up, stand up so I can tell you that you make me smile'. The result is a very groovy, very catchy earworm of a track that once it gets in your head is very hard to get out.
Then comes the big surprise, as you play the rest of the ep you realise that Stand Up is perhaps the weakest track on offer. Things I Do starts off sounding a little like very early Rush and develops into a song that is dripping classic indie rock sensibilities and is even catchier than the previous one, features a superb break down passage then an inspired key change that sends shivers down the spine. Then we get Don't Turn Away with a sort of stripped down Tiger Please vibe to it with some cool bass playing and some great drumming that steps away from your standard four four patterns and throws in some tasty John Bonham style fills and syncopation. Then we get the closer Here With You a beautiful simple teen love song, that has a distinctive James Taylor feel to it, or maybe something Leonard Cohen would write if he O.D'ed on uppers. All really really good stuff.
Not only do these guys know how to pen a good tune, but they know how arrange one as well. These songs are wonderfully sparse, every instrument on show is given space to breathe, there is none of that modern indie / commercial rock wall of guitar fuzz here at all and the band sound all the better for it. Even at their tender ages these guys have learned one of musics most vital lessons, that the space between the notes are as vital as the notes themselves, and its a lesson that will stand them in very good stead in the future.
Now not only are Carbon a promising studio outfit, but I've seen these guys perform and they can deliver on stage as well and I've got a feeling that given a few breaks they have a bright future ahead of them.
Well worth checking out
For fans of... Tiger Please, Hefner, British Sea Power, Suede.....