I feel like this is the album I would have written if I had taken all of the ideas that came to me, sitting in the basement at the piano. So, since I’m always critical of my own composition, I’m going to break down how I felt about S. Carey’s new album All We Grow, released on August 24th, 2010. This album was recommended to me because I adore Bon Iver, the band that Carey happens to drum for.
Somewhat reminds me of Jeremy Flower’s ambient work with clarinets. After a little while, the ambience collapses into sensual, Iron-and-Wine style crooning over broken four-note guitar chords. Little bits of cello dip underneath the ooh-ing and ahh-ing before the song ends. Not terribly exciting, not terribly soothing. It just exists. Rating: 5/10
Lots of loops. Looped interspersed vocals and looped impatient piano chords set the theme for this quiet exploration into phase. An excellent song for a mixtape inspired by driving or pounding 2am rain. Wait for the exciting buildup; it’ll really cinch things for you. Rating 7/10
In The Dirt
Catchier. Soft, muted piano triplets and snappy percussion that sounds like a drumstick rapping time on an upright piano lid. Low, creamy clarinet tones top it off. 6/10
Enters one ear and exits another. Resembles meditation music for a while, then something bizarre happens during the last 10 seconds that sounds like a machine spiraling down a staircase. 4/10
This is where you can hear Justin Vernon exert the strongest influence on Carey. Dissonant, perfect guitar chords make you bob your head as you keep time with the pulsing bass drum. 7/10
Began to lose interest in where it was going after only 10 seconds. May be called Action, but the only action I felt compelled to do was go to the next track. 3/10
In The Stream
A little bit of a Snow Patrol vibe, like it could be used for a death scene on Grey’s Anatomy. Sweet, like a little cupcake with layers of little bells and chimes. The breakdown at the end was very gently percussive, noble, and satisfying. 7/10
All We Grow
Opening guitar chord was instantly reminiscent of older Death Cab for Cutie. Reoccurring theme at end tied in the earlier use of clarinet tones nicely. Carey plays with sounds like someone playing with silverware at the dinner table; casually, without purpose; like he’s waiting for the main course. 6/10
Sounded like Glósóli by Sigur Rós, but a lot weaker. 5/10
All in all, I wasn’t impressed by this album. It didn’t make feel anything or understand something new about my own world, and that’s why I really listen to music. Sean Carey needs a strong musical punch to bring omph to his composition.
Overall Rating: 6/10