First Appeared in The Music Box, August 2009, Volume 16, #8
Written by Kirk DeCordova
Wed August 12, 2009, 06:30 AM CDT
It isnít easy to categorize a band like Carlon. One trek through the groupís 2008 album Johari Window reveals enough twists and turns to send a personís head flying in all directions. To put it simply, this is definitely an outing that cannot be appreciated fully until it has been heard multiple times.
Carlonís music has often been defined as Americana, folk-rock fare. Yet, this definition doesnít really do the band justice at all. The New Jersey-based quartet ó which consists of vocalist Michael McWilliams, guitarist Ryan McGlynn, drummer Milo Venter, and bass player Jared Pollack ó began its career performing in venues along the Jersey shore. Carlon soon journeyed to a 20,000-square-foot practice space in nearby Fairfield where it recorded Johari Window, its first full-length endeavor. A variety of influences permeate the affair ó most notably Tom Petty, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, and Bob Dylan.
Johari Window begins with the jarring track Mixed Messages, which combines tight vocals, pounding drums, and ringing guitars with all of the hooks typically found in power-pop. With its lush harmonies and deliberate, relaxed tempo, the subsequent track Cantaloupe provides quite a contrast. Carlon takes a country-oriented turn on Where the Driveway Ends. With lyrics like "Ducks on the pond in the morning sun/My head plays a waltz," the tune strikes an easy-going mood before morphing into a rocker with some cool slide guitar. Other worthwhile moments include the effortless, McCartney-style pop of Rosie; the haunting Red Rover, which bears traces of Jim Morrison; and the Dylan-esque finale Murder the Night.
Although its music conjures images of the countless other acts that have preceded it, Carlon hardly is rehashing the sounds of yesteryear. It takes an abundance of talent to fuse disparate musical flavors together in a fashion that doesnít feel awkward or trite. On Johari Window, Carlon succeeds, with swaggering flair, in making the case that it is an original act with a style that is entirely its own.
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