Carson - Carson EP
Record Label: Independent
Release Date: August 27, 2011
There have been an endless amount of gimmick bands in recent years with token female vocalists; all seeking to emulate one in particular who likely isn’t as talented as she is portrayed to be: Hayley Williams. The obvious question is: Why do they want to emulate her so much? There are likely many reasons, but they all centralize around the fact that the voice of Paramore is the mainstream, popular voice that most people recognize, with its simplistic accessibility being further cheapened by copycats fishing for exposure. Like it or not, Paramore will be the band that all other female-fronted bands will be compared with, unreasonably or otherwise. It’s become a fact of life at this point. They are the band that sets the bar for the ignorant, the obsessive, or both—and by extension the other bands will do so to themselves. Paramore fans inflate their talent to levels so high that no other female-fronted band could face their irrational devotion and come out on top. Thankfully however, these fans are nothing more than a paper tiger in the grand scheme of things, as their opinions aren’t particularly objective and any band who panders to them will only suffer self-inflicted injury. The greater majority of listeners can be swayed, and more female-fronted bands need to come to a realization of that.
So how does Carson stack up to all the comparisons in a niche full of coattail riders? Despite their ridiculous but inevitable occurrence, it’s obvious at least to me that Carson’s lead vocalist, Taisha Bethea, doesn’t naturally sound like Hayley. She has a unique vocal definition; more robust than Hayley’s, apart from a few similar vocal inflections. In fact, if I would compare her to anyone it would decisively be a combination of Mindy White from Lydia and States, and Jessica Leplon from The Morning Of. Even though the truth of this is quite apparent, it seems like Carson can’t give up the specter that is the influence of Paramore on their vocalist. There is an obtrusive level of auto-tune to fit Taisha’s voice into notes she might not be comfortable with, and after a more scrutinizing listen it seems evident that she tries to forcibly manipulate her intonation by over or under-enunciating certain syllables. The vocals can be very pitchy at certain points. Given that the rest of the band gives the over-processed mold it’s handed a good stretching, as shown later, it would be wise for Taisha to take the more natural approach. Expanding on her voice’s natural uniqueness by diversifying in melody is what will get them more attention.
The draw of the EP is surely the band behind Taisha, who still manage to retain their grasp on the majority of my attention even as I write this. The more experimental and ambient influence of Circa Survive is woven into each track. Ordinarily I would be railing against Carson for being mindless soundalikes in this spectrum as well, but they avoid the double-edged sword here by maintaining their pop sensibility. “Moving Forward” takes a pop-rock tempo similar to “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” by Jet and runs with it. A good deal of hard rock influence can also be sensed, as “Heart Meets Habit” wouldn’t be out of place on an In This Moment album. The percussion does a fantastic job of maintaining the EP’s overall catchiness but lacks in technicality, and thereby removes attention from itself. It could definitely use more than a few well-placed strong fills, and the addition of double-bass would probably produce interestingly pleasing results.
Carson have done a great deal to carve out a bubble of uniqueness for themselves, especially given that the scene they’re in is likely more polarized than the post-hardcore scene that has been ruined in recent years. However, they have a lot of potential left unmet, both by expectations set upon them and by a few overlooked techniques. I hope they meet it, should they have an opportunity to record a full-length.
Good. Only one bad thing about it is that you spoke a little bit much about Paramore...
What the band needs is a producer, to review and correct all of those vocal filtering errors and fillers for the tracks. So then they'd have a shot!
Well, assuming the people reading this have heard Carson's EP, which most readers should be doing as they read and which fans obviously already have done, they would know that the Hayley Williams/Paramore comparisons around this band are absolutely inane. I felt it best to disseminate that thoroughly, aside from it making a good intro.
sweet, i think this band has loads of potential the vocals are obviously there, it's not the bands fault just the production, their songs aren't auto tuned based and i hear more of an anthony green sound then anything i took the time to find some live videos and taisha is spot on! The band as a whole impressed me and i'm excited to see what more they have in store, just keep at it!