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Cartel - Cartel Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 9
Musicianship 8.75
Lyrics 8.25
Production 8.5
Creativity 8
Lasting Value 9
Reviewer Tilt 8.75
Final Verdict: 86%
Member Ratings
Vocals 8.56
Musicianship 9
Lyrics 7.94
Production 9
Creativity 7.69
Lasting Value 6.94
Reviewer Tilt 9.19
Average: 83%
Inside AP.net

Cartel - Cartel

Reviewed by: MusicTalks (10/08/08)
Cartel - Cartel
Record Label: Epic Records
Release Date: August 21, 2007

We all know that, in this genre of music, there are probably ten bad bands for one really good band. Around every corner, under every stone, behind every shrub or lurking o’er yonder is a band just waiting for you to show up so they can slap you with their music. In most cases these bands will turn out to be a knock off of a band you like, as evidenced by their MySpace Friend Request – “If you love <insert a good band name here>, then you’ll love us, <insert shitty knock off band name here>!” Maybe you’ll listen to them to see what they’re about. Maybe you won’t. I used to delete them, convinced that they were all multiplying mogwai that wanted to be fed after midnight. As of late, I have started giving them a shot because, honestly, I think that everyone deserves a chance. Not only that, but I happened to find one of my favorite bands, Cartel, in a similar fashion. For a reason I have yet to figure out, I listened to Cartel. Maybe I was anxious for something new. Maybe I was tired of everything old. Maybe it was a Wednesday afternoon and I was bored. I really have no idea. What I did know was that this was going to be a band that people should listen to. And listen people did.

After the release of Chroma, Cartel became the poster for power-pop music. Will’s boyishly good looks didn’t hurt him with the female fans and his amazingly strong vocals mixed in with witty lyrics kept the rest listening. People gave the band shit for the attention from the young female base, but in this genre, it’s nothing new. Cartel rolled with the punches. They toured relentlessly promoting Chroma for years, sampling new music here and there. Only after their debut sold some 200,000 records was it time to get back to recording new music. Enter: “Band In A Bubble”, sponsored by Dr. Pepper, which aired on MTV. The concept was to lock the band in a bubble in New York City and have people stare at them for twenty days while they wrote/recorded their next album. It was, at this point, that people decided the band had sold out and that was that.

Despite what MTV and the “Band In A Bubble” wanted you to think, this album was not written in twenty days. Some? Yes. Most? No. I would venture to say that only a handful of songs were actually written in the bubble, leaving the rest of the album to have been written on the road, where bands live their lives. So, while you might have read the rave reviews about Chroma and then read a few reviews about Cartel, leaving you with little to no expectations, one thing that is overlooked is that their second album is actually very, very good. We can all admit that there are songs on Chroma that we like. Some more than others, but it’s a catchy pop-punk mixture with strong vocals, cutting lyrics and powerful instruments. Cartel has those three ingredients, and more.

From “The Best”, a solid guitar-only intro with Will’s voice to “The Fortunate”, a drum-heavy anthem song with a chorus that makes you want to open the windows and scream out loud; Cartel is a great record. And where it lacks the originality that Chroma displayed, it more than makes up for it with solid vocals, heavy instruments and catchy tunes. “Lose It” was the single for the album and the only song to get a video to accompany it. If you saw the video, you hated it. I hated it. The song itself is catchy, but it’s one of my least favorite on the album. Thankfully, there are plenty more to make up for it. “Tonight” is a hard-hitting guitar and drum-based song with some infectious lyrics and an even more infectious chorus. “No Subject (Come With Me)” is a little softer and not as catchy, but the chorus is full of pop/punk valor. “This is Who We Are” is one of my favorites and it has the hardest hitting regular drum base on the record. The lyrics are easy to sing along to and the lead into each verse and chorus just shows how well the instruments and vocals come together. A fan favorite will surely be “Wasted” and there are two versions to choose from. Wyclef Jean produces/sings on one of them. “The Fortunate” is an anthem song that all fans will love, followed by a lyrical gem in “Georgia.” “If You Do, If You Don’t” is guitar and drum heavy, but it’s got a vocal tenacity to it that makes it slow and fast at the same time. If you are looking for a “Minstrel’s Prayer”, “Q” or “A”, you won’t find it, but “If I Were To Write This Song” is the closest. It’s eight minutes long and it’s broken into two songs in one, with the second half being totally amazing. Overall, Kevin Sanders’ drums drive the album with an ecclectic accompaniment from Jeff Lett, Nic Hudson and Joseph Pepper on guitar (Listen for Pepper’s solos throughout, you will love them).

When it’s all said and done and you’ve listened to this album, pushing it aside because it wasn’t Chroma, find it and listen again. You’ll come to love it for not being Chroma. It’s a heavy dose of great music, catchy vocals and simple lyrics, not unlike its predecessor. With tunes like “Tonight”, “This is Who We Are”, “If You Do, If You Don’t”, and “The Fortunate”, it will bring you back to the days of “Luckie St”, where you want roll your windows down, feel the cold air all around and start heading out of town.

Recommended if You Likegreat vocals; anthems; a taste or full serving of Cartel; finding out what the South brings

myspace.com/cartel
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 22.
10:05 AM on 10/15/08
#2
Cheesus
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Awesome review man, loved it. I totally agree with you. I don't know why this album got pushed aside by so many fans, it has some really great songs on it..
12:19 PM on 10/15/08
#3
klawansie7
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wasted is by far my favorite cartel song and one of my fave songs of all time, i think.

solid review.
12:44 PM on 10/15/08
#4
Burning Star IV
Mornings Taste Like Turpentine
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Good review.

Just my own opinion, I felt this release was a huge letdown.
12:45 PM on 10/15/08
#5
MusicTalks
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wasted is by far my favorite cartel song and one of my fave songs of all time, i think.

solid review.

first, thank you.

second, i could tell it was a big favorite because at each of the recent shows, everyone loved it. honestly, i like it, it's okay, but it's not one of my favorites. i think that my favorite cartel song would probably have to be the acoustic version of "fiend" (which technically isn't cartel, only will), "burn this city" (for sentimental reasons) or "city never sleeps"
01:02 PM on 10/15/08
#6
refgirl23
at least I'm not a UT fan
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Good review.

"This is Who We Are" is hands down my favorite song on the album; the music dork in me loves the snare being played with the brush wires at the opening of "Wasted" along with the trumpet solo also.

About a year and a half ago I didn't know anything more of Cartel than just "Say Anything" and "Honestly". Last July I saw them at their Secret Show in Atlanta, and haven't stopped listening since.
01:33 PM on 10/15/08
#7
owiseone35
You need human heat
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I guess I'll be the pessimist in this forum. I think this cd is pretty bad. It is much worse then Chroma and is way too forgettable. Hopefully Cartel bounce back and make an EPIC 3rd cd but as for this it's going into the garbage.
02:42 PM on 10/15/08
#8
Bobby Tucker
China... YEAH!!!
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I guess I'll be the pessimist in this forum. I think this cd is pretty bad. It is much worse then Chroma and is way too forgettable. Hopefully Cartel bounce back and make an EPIC 3rd cd but as for this it's going into the garbage.

100% Agreed. I think its good vocally, when Will actually ventures out of the middle octaves that he seems to settle into after The Fortunate. However, musically this album just isn't very good, some songs set up around gimmicky synth beats, a la "I Will Hide Myself Away", while others are just middle of the road pop punk. Nothing stands out from the crowd for me, even "Wasted" doesn't hold up against "The Minstrel's Prayer" from Chroma. Creatively, it's a mess too, why do you think so many fans of Chroma have called them out on the bubble tactic and the "cheapness" of this effort? Overall, this probably isn't the worst CD around, but it is certainly a disappointment following their debut, and hopefully they can right the ship, especially now that they left their money grubbing major label...
03:27 PM on 10/15/08
#9
klawansie7
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first, thank you.

second, i could tell it was a big favorite because at each of the recent shows, everyone loved it. honestly, i like it, it's okay, but it's not one of my favorites. i think that my favorite cartel song would probably have to be the acoustic version of "fiend" (which technically isn't cartel, only will), "burn this city" (for sentimental reasons) or "city never sleeps"
burn this city is pretty sweet too.
but yea wasted is a favorite for personal meanings... but it always reminds me to like do something with my life...
i think that's why i like it so much...
08:28 PM on 10/15/08
MusicTalks
@JasDunham
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100% Agreed. I think its good vocally, when Will actually ventures out of the middle octaves that he seems to settle into after The Fortunate. However, musically this album just isn't very good, some songs set up around gimmicky synth beats, a la "I Will Hide Myself Away", while others are just middle of the road pop punk. Nothing stands out from the crowd for me, even "Wasted" doesn't hold up against "The Minstrel's Prayer" from Chroma. Creatively, it's a mess too, why do you think so many fans of Chroma have called them out on the bubble tactic and the "cheapness" of this effort? Overall, this probably isn't the worst CD around, but it is certainly a disappointment following their debut, and hopefully they can right the ship, especially now that they left their money grubbing major label...

as much as i love this album, i do feel like they sold themselves short in certain areas, but too much was made of the 'bubble'. it was the easiest way to write them off with the least bit of effort. i heard certain leaks of several songs before they were even in the bubble so it can't all be said that it was done in 20 days. "wasted" is probably my least favorite song on the album and i agree it doesn't hold up to the best of chroma, but the rest of the cartel is fundamentally sound in structure. i love that we all have opinions. thank you for giving con to this album, i truly do. it's appreciated.
08:29 PM on 10/15/08
MusicTalks
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I guess I'll be the pessimist in this forum. I think this cd is pretty bad. It is much worse then Chroma and is way too forgettable. Hopefully Cartel bounce back and make an EPIC 3rd cd but as for this it's going into the garbage.

dude, side note - i live in herndon, va too. where you at kid?
01:34 AM on 10/16/08
fadedmemories
You'd be good for me
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Good review.

Just my own opinion, I felt this release was a huge letdown.
Agreed
05:47 PM on 10/18/08
owiseone35
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dude, side note - i live in herndon, va too. where you at kid?


Your kidding right, ha ha that's tight. Ya I live across the street from Herndon High School on Old Hunt Way. Where are you living?
06:04 PM on 10/26/08
jrice7423
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glad to be the only member that rated this album haha

i think Cartel is an infectious album with a lot of drive behind it
they should have never done "the bubble" though...it really gave them a tainted image for most people (not me thankfully)
06:05 PM on 10/26/08
jrice7423
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P.S. the best song off the album is "Tonight" by a long-shot

Best Cartel song of all time: "City Never Sleeps" by a long-shot as well
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