I meant to do this review before Launch but things got really hectic and I got really lazy but I digress… here’s the review.
Now this album is a lot dearer to my heart than many of the band members actually know, I snuggle it sometimes when I’m lonely and pretend it’s Max. Well I guess you could say the band is closer to my heart than the album but this album has come to represent that love.
Carousel Kings, not to be confused with King Carousel an indie pop outfit from Hobart, wherever that is, are a pop-punk act from Lancaster PA. That’s right the breakdown capitol of the world and my fake hometown, cause I wish I lived there every time I go there despite being from the next county over. There has to be something in the water out there cause so much good shit comes out of this region. Okay so the reason this band is so close to my boner/heart is because my former roommate and I bonded over our love for them and through him met all the dudes in Knee Deep and Sinking, great band and great friends. With Kev, my former roommate, I would go on to to see them a few times which is where I fell in love with their live show. This was back before Brad, Kyle, and Jarrod were even blips on the horizon (or maybe they were) and Zell was still playing bass for them (fuck yeah scene cred.)
Okay so long story short, I consider them some of my best friends now and just absolutely love all their music. Okay so now that I’ve thrown this train so far off the tracks its considered a major disaster, lets talk about the fucking music.
My major gripe with this album is Worth My Time is not the lead off track, I’m talking full band, the works come on dudes step up your game.
Okay I swear that’s the last stupid joke. The first track is called Rumspringa which is obviously about how the band left their Amish roots to pursue pop-punk. Okay that really was the last joke.
This album is packed full of energy, youthfulness, and maturity. If you have not listened to CK before this an excellent time to explore their material as this full length packs a very healthy dose of previous tracks as well as a slew of new bangers. Where Speak Frantic kind of stumbled A Slice of Heaven shines. This album really gives the illusion of a diversified range while maintaining a singular tonality throughout the record. What I mean is while all the songs have their own life and directions they are all undeniably CK tracks.
The new tracks have so much maturity and having followed them for a while it’s awesome to see where they are now. Seriously the growth in both tone and songwriting is remarkably good for a band that is still very young. One of my favorite tracks, Don’t Go Home opens up with snazzy bass groove that sucks you right into the guitar entrances and then before you know you it you are bobbing your head uncontrollably. Dave’s voice rings out incredibly clearly on all the tracks and does a fantastic job with the melodies. It has all the makings of straight forward pop song until suddenly you remember Max Fasnacht is in this band and you are greeted to a lovely wall of double bass kicks and Dave Garman yelling with a sea of gang vocals echoing behind in a very true CK fashion. CK didn’t invent gang vocals but they sure as hell make damn fine use of them. Take a fan favorite Max’s Song an older track, you know every time you hear the last chorus you will be losing your shit screaming, I know I always am.
All the older songs have been touched up, with little things. A big thing for me was that the tone of the guitars was incredibly clear and at the same time as biting as you would expect any punky guitar part to be. Despite be written in their younger teen years this songs still sounds very fresh and lively compared to the newer tracks. I would have liked to see Reach for the Sky make a comeback on this record but Try Not to Break Us Down is good fit to break up the pace and change things up with it’s metal core embellishments.
I’ll be ginger with this next part cause I do wanna say some things about this record.
I will be the first to admit that Dave is not a spectacular vocalist, but I will be the first to defend him and say he is still fantastic because he does everything that counts, making everything work. I understand he was sick while recording and that he was not at his best. However I want to point out this tidbit was something I felt with Speak Frantic. The problem is I feel that Dave is too reined in the on the recordings, Dave is fantastic live, his voice is incredibly raw and unhinged and I thrive on that. The first time CK played the new songs at O’Reilly’s back in like February or something I was blown away by Dave’s Vocal performance. If you haven’t figured me out by now I love raw sounding music it gives a lot more weight to any punkish material in my opinion. The Vocals on the record are solid but not as great as I feel they could be. Dave if you are reading this, the next time you record anything try losing your shit and bring out “Live Dave” because you are an incredible live singer and I mean that sincerely. Your Screaming/yelling/singing always works for me. Dave has a voice that stands out in the Pop-punk scene as not just a carbon copy of other vocalists and that’s why I love this band. He brings something unique to the table.
Whether you love pop-punk sing alongs or pit inducing breakdowns this album has something for you and I highly recommend it.
Jacob P. Overholt