‘Carnymusic’ will have you yearning for warm summer nights next to a campfire
With a name like Carnymusic, you might be a little surprised to find out that instead of circus sounds, this self-titled solo project from Mike Carnahan is actually a solid indie album.
It opens with a Decemberists-like track “Riptide.” I say Decemberists-like due to the fact that Carnahan’s style choices here sound much like the great Montana-based band. He also sets the tone for the rest of the album by keeping it simple — vocals, guitars and a few background elements mixed together with contemplative lyrics.
On “Beetle In The Sand,” Carnahan strips it down even more, with an earthy tone that sounds like a good campfire song you’d request to hear on a nice evening out in the woods next to a serene lake or river. He also showcases his vocal range here very well. He goes from soft to loud in a matter of seconds and his voice sounds nothing like Mr. Colin Molloy here.
“Start Another Week” doesn’t do much to separate itself from the rest of the songs, but, the album ends well with “Close Your Eyes,” my favorite song on the LP.
“Close Your Eyes,” starts with a sense of danger that’s extenuated by the banjo-sounding riff and the sly background organ that you don’t realize is there until it stops. It’s a track that reminds me of classic Tom Waits. I keep picturing an old Cadillac abandoned on the highway where you’re not quite sure if you should stop or not due to the nature of the person outside working on it. It’s an indelible image that lasts throughout the track.
When Carnahan isn’t performing on his own, he’s also the lead singer of the San Francisco-based western-psych band The Green Door.
According to the album release Canahan states that, “In a shift from the expansive, mythological themes of the West that embodies The Green Door, CarnyMusic explores the raw, personal, and even solitary human condition as well as its dynamic relationship to an ever-changing world. CarnyMusic expresses an earthy, ethereal, atmospheric sound, like a dream fading as you wake. With a subtle nostalgia for bygone eras, it hints at influences from folk, gothic americana, and blues. The outcome is an ebb and flow of sonic possibilities that stretch across a range of moods and intensities.”
In addition to the previously mentioned similarities, Carnymusic also sounds a bit like early acoustic Beck, Elliott Smith and Nick Drake. Other than the somewhat-curious name, this album’s definitely well done and is well worth adding to your indie music library. The album is currently available everywhere.