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Cari Clara - Midnight March Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 8
Musicianship 8
Lyrics 8
Production 8
Creativity 8
Lasting Value 8
Reviewer Tilt 8
Final Verdict: 80%
Member Ratings
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Cari Clara - Midnight March

Reviewed by: blue_light_888 (09/05/12)
Cari ClaraMidnight March
Record Label: Deep Elm Records
Release Date: July 14, 2012

Anybody who just listened through mellow indie-rock band Cari Clara’s Midnight March, say, on a particularly rainy bus trip (as I did on my first listen) would be forgiven for using the airy guitar, bombastic beats, and swelling strings as a sign of simple comfort, as if all the band wanted to do was wrap their listeners in blankets of sound. After all, they’d mostly be forgiven, as the album is the kind of light, warm fare that listeners so often embrace in the summer. But further listens reveal the sort of large scale pondering that mostly goes dismissed or suppressed in so-called “real life” by people too busy to ponder such things but is allowed its say here. And perhaps that is, in its own way, warmer: it lets the listener in on the assuring fact that the concerns they fret about in their heads are not only their own.

The music helps right away, setting such a welcoming background that most visitors would be loath to leave. Though opener “Shout”, a song that juxtaposes the progress of humanity with our irrepressible tendencies toward brutality, has its dark moments, the charming guitar line and the sweeping pianos make for an incredibly gentle entrance into the issue. “Bring On The Dark” is similarly summery, a shy track that bursts to life in its pounding, passionate chorus. When vocalist Eric Diedrichs sings, “These lights, they fade/ The way they always do / Bring on the dark / Cause I see only you”, you’d better believe he means what he says. Despite Cari Clara’s tendencies towards lighter textures, they pack a surprising amount of heft.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that the band’s sound is ever weak, though: it’s an exercise in restraint, and the rare moments of unbridled catharsis are stronger for the band’s discipline. The first such moment is the gorgeous “Safe”, built on a fairly classic melody line placed on an organ and keyboard, the acoustic verses building up through Diedrichs’ shaken but steady vocals, delivering fears like “Is it wrong to always feel so out of place / When we’re tied to every hand spinning on a face / Now it’s so hard to leave” before knocking both down in a rousing yet urgent chorus with a booming beat that washes everything away; the effort evokes recent Paper Route in its seamless melding of twinkling melodies with dramatic, hip-hop influenced instrumentation. Hip-hop influences carry through to the aptly-titled “Battle Hymn”, a fairly angry track by Cari Clara’s mellow standards. The track, an upbeat song about carrying on, is carried by the tricky but deviously catchy beat when the melody falls a bit weak.

When the album takes on a more hopeful tone in its second half, the music rises to meet it. The second half opens with the piano ballad “When You Knew It”, which in spite of its sparse instrumentation is one of the most haunting, moving cuts on Midnight March, largely due to how well the melodies swell and those voices in the chorus just melt together. On its heels is “Greater History”, which follows a similar trajectory in its first verse before the guitars slam into the track and convert it into an upbeat anthem. For its rousing energy, though, the song teeters on the edge of crisis: “One day these lungs are gonna fill with dirt / As legend has it we’re not the first / We are actors in this mystery / Looking for a greater history,” Diedrichs declares in the last go of the chorus, words that celebrate the meaninglessness of the human condition even as they recognize it. The chorus of “Story In The Stars” is similar in its juxtaposition of hope and despair: it stings as much as it heals (interestingly, it takes on much of the same territory as “Safe”). The long history of human error is a recurring theme on Midnight March, one brought into full force here: the conclusion is dark but ultimately redemptive—and optimistic for what lies ahead.

With only two tracks left to go, most bands would have chosen to exit on a note of optimism, something to leave listeners reassured after an album’s worth of angst and agony. Instead, Cari Clara doubles down on the turmoil near the end. “Homage To Excess” is a dark condemnation of the lonely modern lifestyle which pairs low-key melodies with sweeping instrumentation, imbuing its exploration of the things that people use to busy and delude themselves with a sense of affectionate desperation. The ballad reads like the inner realizations of somebody who hit rock bottom long before he realized it and is now “giving back the air I breathe for anything whole”. The surprisingly moody closer “Fury Of Sound” is comprised of jangly guitar lines, plinking piano, and measured drum beats. The track is intoxicating if disappointingly inert, and it makes for a contemplative, ambivalent ending to the questions raised throughout Midnight March.

Quite frankly, though, Diedrichs isn’t looking for answers. After all, as he sings on “Bring On The Dark”, we “listen for a word of heart / like blind soldiers on a midnight march”. Perhaps we humans may be blind, but at least we have each other, our rare moments of intimacy, of empathy. And Midnight March is a great place to begin pondering such things: Cari Clara have crafted a refreshingly warm yet honest album that lets you know that even if all your fears are real, you sure as hell aren’t going to face them alone.

8/10

Recommended If You LikeArcade Fire, The Boxer Rebellion, something between the bombastic charm of Mat Kearney and the sobering melancholy of Greg Laswell


Track Listing1. Shout
2. Bring On The Dark
3. Same Old Bad Dream
4. Safe
5. Battle Hymn
6. When You Knew It
7. Greater History
8. Story In The Stars
9. Homage To Excess
10. Fury Of Sound
Total running time: 43 minutes
Artist website: http://www.deepelm.com/cariclara/


About MeFree indie music and candy at wasfuersohr.blogspot.com!
 
Displaying posts 1 - 7 of 7
07:55 AM on 09/07/12
#2
blue_light_888
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wow, I missed a lot of grammatical errors in this.
10:00 PM on 09/09/12
#3
HYGz
no. nice and slow.
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Love seeing the Deep Elm love around here lately. Such a solid label, they have been pretty on point the last few months.
07:50 AM on 09/10/12
#4
blue_light_888
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Love seeing the Deep Elm love around here lately. Such a solid label, they have been pretty on point the last few months.

if they continue to pump out releases of this caliber, then you'll be hearing a lot more about them here
07:59 AM on 09/10/12
#5
HYGz
no. nice and slow.
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if they continue to pump out releases of this caliber, then you'll be hearing a lot more about them here
I hear a lot about them already, seeing as I'm one of the artists on their roster Haha. Kudos for the well written review. I loved this album, and CC before I even shared a label with him.
08:43 AM on 09/10/12
#6
blue_light_888
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I hear a lot about them already, seeing as I'm one of the artists on their roster Haha. Kudos for the well written review. I loved this album, and CC before I even shared a label with him.

oh, wow! I didn't know, hehe. your band's latest release was pretty rad; I'm not even really into that vein of rock, but it engaged me throughout.
thanks for reading my review! I always look forward to writing up stuff
08:45 AM on 09/10/12
#7
HYGz
no. nice and slow.
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oh, wow! I didn't know, hehe. your band's latest release was pretty rad; I'm not even really into that vein of rock, but it engaged me throughout.
thanks for reading my review! I always look forward to writing up stuff
Thanks for the kind words! On both accounts haha. I'll keep an eye out for your next one for sure.
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