This review was written in 2007 and originally published on AbsolutePunk.net. It has been very minimally edited before being republished.
That has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? I think I may just coin that phrase.
The term is not only applicable because Cary Brothers (first name Cary, last name Brothers) has had tracks appear on famed Zach Braff projects such as the Garden State Soundtrack (“Blue Eyes”) and the Last Kiss Soundtrack (“Ride”), nor is it only applicable because my first introduction to the artist was via a karaoke scene in Scrubs (Season 4: Episode 4 – “My First Kill”). No, the term can be used to accurately describe the sound of the artists deemed worthy of its association. I think you know what I’m talking about — moody, emotional music — maybe a little too mainstream to be indie yet a little too indie to be mainstream. The kind of music that fits the soundtrack to a movie so perfectly because you can also picture it as the soundtrack to your life. It’s the music that plays in your head before that first kiss with a new crush, and the music that radiates in your ears as you walk home after they break your heart. It’s the kind of music you can tie to memories so vividly that repeated listens conjure the smells, the tastes, and the other sensory images of the best (and worst) days of your life.
The debut album from Cary Brothers comes on the heels of two previously released EPs, and there’s a little cross over content-wise. However, after subsequent listens it becomes apparent that while the preceding material was enough to build a strong base of fans, it will be this album that solidifies the artist as one of the most entrancing in a budding musical landscape.
The disc opens with “Jealousy,” a piano driven track that evokes thoughts of Keane and Snow Patrol. Cary’s vocals shift between soft whispers and a flushed-out rough tenor. It’s this vocal command and sonant dichotomy that advance each track and shape the mood of the album as a whole. The musical themes range from the religious (“Jealousy,” “All the Rage”), to the introspectively somber (“The Glass Parade”), to various views of relationships (“Honestly,” “Think Awhile”).
The album is at its best when listened to as a whole – each track leading into the next, each mood set and re-set with each passing song. It’s therefore difficult to pick only a handful of “stand-out” tracks as each fits perfectly in its place amongst the others. The most pop-minded title track (“Who You Are”) leads into an absolutely gorgeous ballad (“The Glass Parade”). The brilliantly recorded back-up vocals of Justin Seay (right channel) and Rachel Robinson (left channel) make the cover of the Thompson Twins’ “If You Were Here” a must listen with headphones. The mellow, trance-like and repetitive “All the Rage” fits firmly between “Think Awhile” and the album’s closer “Precious Lie” – the three song set acting as three parts of a final play. And all of this takes place while fan favorites “Ride” and “Honestly” ravish the listener before plunging them into the a bass-driven track (“The Last One”) and the string backed “Loneliest Girl in the World.” Can a mother pick her favorite child? Or does she love each one in a different way? It’s with this mentality that I leave each listen of the album.
And so we’re left with songs that could as easily fill a smoke-filled bar as they could a dorm-room. Songs that could be played amongst John Mayer as easily as Joni Mitchell. Songs that could paint the soundtrack to the latest silk-screen blockbuster as easily as color in the lines of your life. It’s simply a matter of putting the album on, turning the distractions off, and experiencing each note.