Carsick Cars
Carsick Cars



by burton.and.gas USER (18 Reviews)
January 15th, 2010 | 2 replies

Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Alt-Rock Beijing Trio are good, just good.

Beijing has something of a burgeoning independent local scene, full of bands that fit into many different styles and pigeonholes. So I, as a temporary resident of Beijing, decided to check it out, and found out that one of the biggest bands out here is Carsick Cars. If you were to attend one of their gigs you would realise how respected they are on a local level, often packing out the venue they are playing in, making it quite hard to order a drink, or move. It is also noteworthy that they have supported many acts on European tours, and are one of the few locals bands to really get an overseas following. They have also received fairly good press from local western press such as the The Beijinger and The Insiders guide to Bejing.

The thing is, I'm not sure why they have such a high level of hype. Don't get me wrong, Carsick Cars are not bad, they are good, I just find very little to write home about in their music, as I will now detail:

Singing mainly in Mandarin (with the exception of tracks 2, 8 and 9), Carsick Cars are something of an amalgamation of different Indie and Alt-Rock influences, ranging from Sonic Youth to Joy Division. Opener 志愿的人 (Zhi Yuan De Ren) is very energetic and poppy, driven by a choppy riff, whilst track 2 棍 (Gun) is a growing feedback based piece, fairly epic in feel, with Sonic Youth style squealing. This showcases the early variety this band is capable of, as well as being accomplished very well, but it does very little to truly impress the listener. It's just good, nothing more.

In general the impression of being fun is carried throughout the album, but occasional pretension sneaks in. For example, cigarette anthem *南海 (Zhong Nan Hai, named after the cheapest brand of Chinese cigarettes), begins as a chirpy indie pop anthem, but breaks down into feedback based noise. The feedback breakdown is interesting at first, but is essentially too long, and is barely saved by the reintroduction of the main melody. This further contributes to my growing suspicions that whilst this album is nothing bad, it is also nothing amazing, and nothing to really enthuse over.

The album continues this pattern of being fun, catchy, melodic and even danceable as we go on, but it is also disappointing in that very little of it stands out. I don't wish to over use the word "choppy" in this reviews, but at times when listening I feel that the riffs laid out by the guitar are almost uniform in being,yes "choppy", and also all around a certain area of the fretboard, not moving far from the higher sections of the lower guitar strings. However, this is not to say there is nothing of note on this album, for example, the distorted leads and dual vocals on track 6 熊猫 (Xiong Mao), leave a little impression, and the guitars for track 8 *身 (Re Shen) are also worthy of note, but all in all, I'm not massively impressed. Track 9 合声 (He Sheng) has a riff like a happy Joy Division, and whilst suffering from the same weaknesses of the previously mentioned tracks, is an accomplished piece of songwriting, making it much more enjoyable.

This is not to say that there is nothing on this album that sticks out; Track 7 广场 (Guang Chang) is a real stand out track on the album, it is both Dancey and Rocky, and really draws the listener in. The use of feedback on this track feels less contrived than on certain previous tracks, with the feedback being used for an actual musical purpose, causing powerful dissonance. All of this is carried along by the reverb-based atmosphere and underpinned by the perky drum beat. In Addition, the final track (回授 Hui Shou) is also a stand out track, with a very well constructed atmosphere dragging the whole thing to a close, admittedly following a familiar formula, instantly recognisable to anyone who listens to this type of dissonant Alt-Rock/Post-Punk.

Carsick Cars are talented, and capable of creating intelligent songs, but I feel that here, in their home territory, they are fairly overrated. There's a lot to enjoy here, but not a lot to get excited about, especially when compared to other "Good" bands.

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user ratings (9)

Comments:Add a Comment 
January 15th 2010


Album Rating: 3.0

Opinions please, also i have proof read it, but always miss something, so let me know if you see something wrong.

January 26th 2011


Album Rating: 4.0

Just good? Go to hell.

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