Review: Cartel – In Stereo EP

Cartel - In Stereo

A lot has changed for Cartel since the release of 2009’s beloved Cycles. Bassist Jeff Lett left the band and was not replaced. More importantly, the band decided to split from Wind-Up Records and release In Stereo entirely independently. Still, the transition from Cycles to now shows no missteps, as this EP picks up right where Cartel’s last fantastic attempt left off.

With only five songs to work with, Cartel leave nothing behind throughout In Stereo. As always, Will Pugh soars as a vocalist, exercising an unforgettable vocal performance on “Conduit” over piercing guitars. The musicianship shines on each track, highlighted by guitars mixing wonderfully with the unique vocal delivery on the infectious “American Dreams.” Pugh truly shines on the closing “Something To Believe” which may be the catchiest track on the EP – although it really is hard to choose what song deserves that title.

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Review: Cartel – Cycles

Cartel - Cycles

After suffering a disaster of Titanic-like proportions (the actual boat, not the movie), Cartel are hoping to recover from the self-titled backlash with Cycles, an album that proves Chroma was the initial jump, Cartel was the (imperfect) landing and Cycles is the massive bounce back. Full of shimmering pop numbers built on shiny-riffs and colossal production, Cycles is a dubious return to the power-pop that launched the band into the stratosphere. “Let’s Go” shakes off all previous binds and lets the band rock their socks off before ensuring that the slump is now indeed over. While there isn’t anything as riveting or as bombastic as the “Q/A” combo, Cartel prove that keeping it simple is just as wildly spirited as anything else they have achieved.

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Review: Cartel – Chroma

Cartel - Chroma

Ever since this debut full-length was first played in my car stereo on the drive home from The Militia Group’s home office, I’ve had one goal in mind: review this before Rohan does.

Okay, I’m only half kidding.

I’m reviewing this CD for one reason: I believe in this band. I think my faith in Cartel is evidenced through my desire, and utmost excitement, to ‘leak’ the band’s album on this very website. I’d never do such a huge promotion with a band I wasn’t 100% behind. There’s a variety of aspects to the band’s music that touch me in a way few bands are able. I hope to convey these feelings as best I can through the following words; however, there are things that you will only discover through sitting down for a good hour with this album, alone, in your room, and with the volume turned up very loudly. My conviction and sharp pose on this band are apparent from any visitor’s every day visit to this website, and this is exactly the review you expected me to write.

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