By Lindsay Wallace
If you’ve never heard of Carlon, now is the time to give them a listen. Refreshingly, this New Jersey quartet’s new album Johari Window has quite literally broken every cliché of the indie rock scene. The first chords of the album instantly pull you into their meditative yet provocative world of atmospheric reverberance where you can just “put your guard down, breathe and follow through.”
This blues rock/folk band was clearly not afraid to step out of the dull indie guitar rock scene and create music of sheer beauty, vigor and quality that sustains throughout the entire album. Carlon simply cannot be compared to any other band out there right now and instead draws influences from 1960’s and 1970’s bands like Pink Floyd and The Beatles.
As lead singer Ryan McGlynn explains to MTV News, “We made this album with more of an intention than just being immediately easily accessible.” Basically, if you don’t get it at first, give it another listen. (pull)The band’s purpose isn’t to be the “next” anything. As McGlynn elucidates, “As soon as you say you’re like another band, you loose your individuality and identity.”(/pull) The transcendental poetic soulful sounds from “Red Rover” immediately hit a chord inside you, with the powerful lyrics, “Red Rover, Red Rover send a good spirit over/Reap hope out of what they sow/Take a life in your hands/Form a line, make a stand/Sob like you mean it when you confess/ ‘I’m too good for the bad I’ve done.’”
Their haunting sounds and moving lyrics will fill you with emotion, particularly during the song “Where the Driveway Ends” as it takes you back to their roots – the band’s name is a tribute to singer/guitar player Michael McWilliams deceased brother. “My brother, he’s gone, so I got to be strong but I hope to see him someday.” In order to understand their musical ambition, you have to look back at Pink Floyd, The Beatles, and movie soundtracks from John Barry and Danny Elfman.
McGlynn admits, “I grew up as a huge Beatles junkie. Eventually I found my parents old vinyls and I was an eight-year old kid listening to Dark side of the Moon hiding under the covers, hearing the laughing and scaring myself shitless but doing it again the next night.” Carlon fervently embraces what they grew up listening to, which means their sound lives somewhere between Dark Side of the Moon and John Barry’s Goldfinger soundtrack.
Each of Johari Window’s twelve tracks effortlessly flows into the next, without diminishing into something dull. The band’s natural ability to evoke raw emotion is aided by their firm appreciation for film soundtracks.
McGlynn adds, “I listened to John Barry’s Goldfinger soundtrack, and I thought, ‘This is awesome’, how he just builds suspense. A lot of music for movies really milk the ability music has to evoke emotion. It works out well having that as an influence because if you want to write a sad song, that’s how you do it.” If you, like everyone in this generation, missed out on the music scene of the 60s and 70s — this is the band to pay attention to right now.
If you haven’t heard Johari Window, get on it. Now.
All the photos in this gallery are of Carlon at New York City’s Bowery Poetry Club on Thursday, April 16th, 2009. No pictures or material may be reproduced without written consent from the owner, all pictures and video are copyrighted. Scroll past photos to read Carlon’s Biography.
Michael McWilliams, Rhythm Guitar and vocals
Ryan McGlynn, Lead Guitar and vocals
Milo Venter, Drums and vocals
Jared Pollack, Bass
(c) UnRated NYC 2009
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“Carlon’s beginnings happened where any good Jersey story starts: At the Jersey shore…” –-Francesca Baratta, The Aquarian Weekly
While the material for Johari Window is drawn directly from the experiences of all four band members, the album is just as much about Carlon learning how to communicate with one another and reflecting on what they went through while working to record the album. Bassist Jared Pollack recalls, “Something we asked ourselves from the very beginning wasn’t ‘How can we learn to make new music with one another?’ but, more importantly, ‘How can we communicate with one another during the creative process, learn to try different things and make personal compromises for the collective good.” Drummer Milo Venter adds, (pull)“During recording, we lost our minds. But, our minds came back. We got our vision across and we achieved what we set out accomplish: to just make real music in a real environment. We’re proud of what the last year has taught us.”(/pull) When asked what Carlon sounds like, the band can become pretty uncomfortable. Lead singer and guitarist Ryan McGlynn explains: “I don’t know that there has been much of anything that we have listened to that hasn’t influenced the songs that we have written in some way. If we hear country in what we’re writing, we’ll add a bit of country. If we hear something new or old, we won’t hesitate to quote it in our music. For us, it’s never been about trying to sound like anyone or anything in particular, just creating something that sounds good to us. Johari Window was the chance to share a dream of ours to create a whole album that was a piece of art to us, with each song depending on the next. We thought, ‘Maybe then other people will like the music, too.’”