Album Review: Carousel Kings – Charm City

Music is as much as it is about perception as it is about the actual music. Even if the music created was considered the best in the world by a collective, without the ability to penetrate new markets and avenues to get that music heard, it’ll eventually fall on deaf ears carving out a niche and living there. Many musicians try to avoid falling into these sorts of trappings which is why over the career of many artists there will be a trend towards a different sound than they started out with; be it an open ended, more accessible sound or a deeper delve into progression and experimentation. When Lancaster, PA pop punk outfit Carousel Kings signed to Victory Records this past November, it only made sense that the band would be going all in on their signature sound that’s rooted in pop punk with an essence of rock and metal intertwined. The outcome is Charm City, a showcase of what incorporating music of varied styles into a defined sound can do for a band and one that will help lead them reach a broader audience.

[tw-toggle title=”About Carousel Kings”]
Genre: Pop Punk | Easycore
Label: Victory Records
Release: February 10, 2017
Connect: Facebook | Twitter
Purchase: iTunes | Google Play

Not that this is a bad thing, but Charm City opens up in one of the most pop punk ways possible with the single “Grey Goose” which first 30 seconds is full of genre tropes – from the monotone vocals to the straight forward, simplistic instrumentation. The thing is that the song contains an additional three minutes which twists and turns the sound and expectations on its head as there’s a catchy, sing-a-long chorus followed up by strong riffwork with a guitar solo further followed up by a more 90s driven punk set piece and gang vocals. The follow up song once again falls into the stereotypical sound, but what comes after is a flurry of music songs that range from somber, soul crushing rock ballads to hard hitting metal-infused riffs and fun, catchy pop-laden choruses. Combining all of these elements into a collection that is cohesive, inspiring and unique without sounding like complete drivel and a mess of sounds is what Carousel Kings have done and as listeners delve further into the record and really let the music soak in, they’ll begin to fully understand the magic that Charm City contains.

Carousel Kings – Here, Now, Forever (Official Audio Stream)

“Here, Now, Forever” is from the album, Charm City, in stores Feb. 10th, 2017. Order Now: Vocalist David Alexander – “‘Here, Now, Forever’ emerges from the deepest depths of the minds, heart and soul of the band members. With the inspiration of flotation therapy, it is the purest and most genuine emotion the band has ever released to date.

As mentioned previously, after “Glory Daze” is when Charm City truly gets moving and takes off the mask unveiling what’s underneath. While the pop punk sound is the foundation sonically throughout the record, Carousel Kings expand on it in such a variety of ways throughout each track that it’s really only a punk record by definition. When “Here, Now, Forever” starts with an acoustic guitar, listeners will feel a swell of emotions upon them while it evolves into a rock ballad that tugs on the heartstrings as frontman David Alexander’s voice oozes emotion and passion. This is followed up by “Bad Habit” which uses a flurry of strong metal influence in its instrumentation while a few tracks later listeners are introduced to an upbeat Blink 182-esque sound in “Hate Me, Love Me” which ends with an incredible bass solo. Even more brilliant is the title track “Charm City” which is a display of impeccable musicianship and a budding sound filled with lush fills, crashing cymbals and simplistic, yet melancholic leads. On the flipside, there are a few tracks that come across as filler like “Glory Daze” and “You Never Will”, but at the same time it’s extremely welcomed that Carousel Kings opted to go past the typical 10 track album.

There’s a few bumps to the journey of Charm City, like the filler tracks and sometimes over reliance on certain sounds, but they’re outshined by the rest of the album so they’ll barely register as a blip to the casual listener. This is the type of album that can easily set a genre ablaze, bringing a slew of new life into it with its instrumentally strong foundation, intricately crafted flow and well-thought balance of softer, slower paced tracks with high, octane fueled ones.  With an incredibly polished level of production, a barrage of stylistic shifts within a singular song that remains cohesive throughout the entire record and brilliant instrumentation from the crunchy, crisp riffs to the non-stop pounding drum work, Carousel Kings have crafted an intricately detailed label debut with Charm City showing that they’re just getting started.


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