By: Ben Salvo
Next year, we’re going to have to stop acting so surprised about the multitudinous directions indie rock has taken, because it will all be old news and we won’t flinch when our Genius Playlists follow Weezer with Wilco. The shock of indie folk and alt-country will be over, and we can all spit our tobacco and pluck our banjos in peace, and bands with that certain cowboy quality will be able to relax into their genre to really begin experimenting. Unfortunately for those unnamed bands of the future, New Jersey’s Carlon are way ahead of the game.
Their sound isn’t quite alt-country and it’s not really folk; it has that intangible feeling of newness but has learned from its roots. On this year’s LP Johari Window, the band delivers something long overdue in the indie world: solid alternative rock music. No cookie cutter, “I get why people like it because it sounds like…” fakery involved. Carlon’s music is pointed and harmonic, and it comes out with a far-off, luminous atmosphere that would make anyone nostalgic for the outdoors.
The band, made up of Michael McWilliams (rhythm guitar, vocals), Ryan McGlynn (lead guitar, vocals), Jared Pollack (bass guitar), and Milo Venter (percussion, vocals), recorded Johari Window in their own rehearsal space. That’s not surprising, as the album has a truly “lived-in” quality that fits this band like a glove.
Slow and heady songs like “Cantaloupe” and “Noel” have a haunting, mournful, mountain sound that seems to hook most of their audience, but I think some of the harder, choppier tracks like “Learn From Your Friends” and “Mixed Messages” are the most impressive, while “Where The Driveway Ends” is superb. Johari Window is a terrific album, in which skilled instrumentation provides an expansive cushion for smart lyrics and dynamic melodies. Carlon is one of Jersey’s best indie bands right now, and they’ll be an important part of the East Coast music scene for years to come.