Kevin Carroll embodies the DIY ethic informing the work of many indie artists today. Working in his soundproofed living room alongside his friend Joey Conception, Carroll produced his debut effort The New You and the three songs off this release highlighted on SoundCloud and Reverbnation are mightily representative of what the full work offers listeners. His sound is not easily labeled; it’s an amalgam of his alternative and progressive rock influences filtered through his unique range of experiences and songwriting sensibilities, but Carroll’s extensive musical pedigree further ups the ante with the intelligent angles the music takes and the well observed lyrical content. This is intimate without ever being too precious, clever without ever being cute, and wears its influences on its sleeve without ever lapsing into outright imitation. Kevin Carroll’s songs reflect a true love for the form and ample creativity to find his place in that area.
“A Picture Perfect Jealousy Issue” is rampaging from the start. There’s a bit of a hard rock/metal vibe surrounding this performance, but Carroll owes the bulk of his stylistic debt to punk and high velocity alternative rock. The sheer rock muscle harnessed for this track is so powerful it’s difficult to imagine it recorded in someone’s living room, soundproofed or not, but it isn’t all sledgehammer. Instead, Carroll creatively punctuates the track with a dark-hued, melancholy coda. The grinding buzzsaw guitar opening “The Higher I Get with You” transforms into a full-on locomotive musical assault. Carroll’s emphatic vocals on this track and the first alike give it a further signature flavor. The musical settings might be familiar to listeners, but there’s enough iconoclasm there to distinguish it, and there’s a surprising emotional strain consistent in his performances that transforms these roaring tracks into impassioned pleas.
Despite its relatively brief duration, “In the Commercials” obviously aims to establish a cinematic feel in that small space. It has a much more moderate tempo than the preceding songs, deliberate without being ponderous, and the guitar work weaves more complex textures over the top. Everything moves here with inexorable force, but it never suffers from the same self-indulgence that critics so often say plagues this style of music. Kevin Carroll has an artist’s ear as a musician and brings together the different strands of his songwriting into a single coherent thread of musical color. This is music written and recorded with an artist’s aesthetic – no one else would have made their living room a recording environment capable of capturing this sound and played with such expert abandon on these three songs. Kevin Carroll is a major rock talent in the offing and his album The New You, based on these songs alone, promises to be the first salvo in a very impactful career. If you love guitar heavy alternative/metal, these songs will run right up your alley.