Defying every stereotype of the hipster’s musical repertoire, Carlon not only refuses to be clumped into the all-too-encompassing indie genre, but redefines what it means to be a band on the rise.
“People say indie music as if it is a certain type of music …buying too much into that is silly,” said lead guitarist and vocalist Ryan McGlynn in a phone interview, adding that indie technically refers to independent record labels. While the term has transformed into a standard of categorization, Carlon’s eclectic sound cannot be pigeonholed to something as primal as indie.
Carlon’s recently released album “Johari Window” showcases the band’s audacious convergence of everything from country to psychedelic rock.
“We’ve decided that as long as it sounds good to us, its ok,” McGynn said.
The album’s first track, “Mixed Messages,” is charged with luring guitar riffs and fierce vocals and drums, setting the energy and diversity for the rest of the album.
The next track “Cantoulope” is testimony to the band’s seamless liminality. The interwoven bantar, along with the harmonized lyrics, result in a soulful combination of country and folk. “Where the Driveway Ends” follows this same wavelength, bringing in more rock undertones, which build and become more prominent as the song progresses.
“Haunt” is both sinister and seductive in its fast paced, talking-singing style, demonstrative of their frequent comparison to Modest Mouse.
This haunting theme continues with “Rutherford,” which is undeniably infused with Pink Floyd. The dreamlike ebb and flow of the cymbal and echo of the glockenspiel screams influence from “The Wall.”
The theme of the album is based on the psychological Johari Window model developed by Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham, which divides an individual’s awareness and interaction into four categories — open, blind, hidden and unknown. The band cleverly works the theme into “Red Rover,” using the children’s game as a sort of metaphor for life as a battlefield and death as inevitable, demonstrated by the refrain “Hands holding up your name/make a chain of everyone you know/Red Rover, Red Rover send a good spirit over/Reap hope out of what they sow.”
In addition to exploring the dynamics of relationships, McGlynn said the theme also shows “how we grew together in making this album.”
The New Jersey based band has been playing together for four years. The band consists of rhythm guitarist Michael McWilliams, who shares lead vocals and writing the songs with McGlynn, drummer Milo Venter, and bassist Jared Pollack.
“Johari Window” was recorded in a warehouse in Fairfield, N.J., which accomplished the album’s authentic, often pervasive sound. McGlynn said they wanted a place they could “frolic, a happy music land.” The band spent nearly everyday for a year in the “happy music land” recording the album.
“It was dirty, but it was home,” McGlynn said.
When asked how the band was able to bring so many different styles together in in the album, McGlynn said, “We all sort of communicate musically so that all these different facets come together.” Though the band has been compared to giants such as Kings of Leon, Pink Floyd and My Morning Jacket, it is clear that Carlon’s simultaneously feisty, funky, surreal, soft, soulful sound is all their own.