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Wonderwheel

Wonderwheel

  • By Utah Carol
  • Release 01/05/2001
  • Music Genre Rock
  • Media Format CD
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CD 
Price: £8.06

Product Notes

Utah Carol was formed in 1997 on the West Side of Chicago. Utah Carol's music is an eclectic mix of dream pop, folk, americana and indie rock mixed with happy/sad, boy/girl harmony vocals. Utah Carol's sound has a variety of vintage organ sounds, synthesizers, loops, slide, electric and acoustic guitars, lush instrumentation and catchy melodies. The band's name comes from a traditional cowboy song about a red blanket and a cowboy who dies trying to save his friend Lenore from a stampede. Utah Carol consists of Grant Birkenbeuel and JinJa Davis. The duo has been writing songs together since 1995. JinJa and Grant compose the music and write the lyrics, as well as produce, arrange, perform and publish their songs at their studio, Stomping Ground Studios, in Chicago, Illinois, USA. 'Comfort for the Traveler,' the band's second album is available now on CDBaby.com REVIEWS Copper Press, Steve Brydges Bouncy and frollicksome, the music of Utah Carol a husband and wife duo, is a happy lot, despite whatever sadness seeps into their quieter melodic moments or the mellower vocal moments. Though the band is versatile with various forms of music, from R&B to rock to surf, etc., their heart lies in twangy Americana, as most of the duo's songs feature some form of toe-tappin' country feel, plaintive musings delivered with gentle voices, a little slide guitar, a lot of an acoustic, and a definite reverence for the genre. It's the Americana that ties the album together, but at the same time, it doesn't limit Utah Carol from successfully exploring everything from jangly surf to jingles to damn fine funky grooves. They do it all so economically, too, with only two of the twenty songs stretching beyond three minutes. Splendidezine.com, George Zahora As I've mentioned before, I like it when a band takes me completely by surprise. Case in point: the opening moments of Wonderwheel suggest that Utah Carol is another starkly melodic alt-country duo...but such is not the case. If Wonderwheel is an alt-country album, it's an alt-country album produced by Van Dyke Parks...which is a pretty interesting concept in itself. There's a strong, strong pop aesthetic at work here amid all the twang. It's evident in the lush sophistication of the melodies -- 'Charmed Life', for instance, adds multiple layers of vocal and instrumental harmony, giving the song a lingering presence. The gentle 'Bluejay' enhances Jinja Davis' sing-song vocals with a pervasively bouncy organ drone. '9:09' borrows it's rhythm from reggae, then Americanizes it with vocal layers and Hammond flourishes, while the overtly twangy 'Buffalo' goes for Beach Boys-style harmonies. The deeper you venture into Wonderwheel, the less you're certain what to expect. 'Cluttered Mind' goes straight for jaunty psychedelia. 'Saying Grace' is a comfortable piece of country pop, but the modest R&B vibe of 'Turn My Way' will make you check to see if an Apples in Stereo CD has found it's way into the CD player. 'Me and You,' will further confuse you, as Davis' breathy lyrical delivery is buoyed by vibraphone and keyboard (or some similar combination of ringing tones). You won't find that sort of stuff on most of your bog-standard alt-country CDs. The jarring keyboard sequence that ends the album puts everything in perspective: Utah Carol like to keep you guessing, and sometimes they like to give you a jolt. As much as I enjoyed Wonderwheel, I found it guilty of a degree of 'kitchen sink-ism'. There are perhaps twelve fully fleshed-out tunes here, punctuated by numerous instrumental tracks. The instrumentals present Utah Carol at their most aggressively genre-bending -- they dabble with funk on 'Miles', cowboy-western themes on 'Toy Train' and make mountain-goat leaps between indie pop, hip-hop and JSBX-style blues on 'Swingset'. A few of these pieces seem like they were included on the album just because they were there, but many present such winning concepts that I wish they'd been developed further. Grant Birkenbeuel and Jinja Davis make effective counterpoint vocalists, and I would like to have heard them take greater advantage of their unique vocal mixture by adding shared vocals to more of these pieces. In particular, I'd like to see what Jinja could do with some of the more beat-intensive tracks. But at least Utah Carol kept me guessing. And when you're reviewing six or seven albums a week, a little surprise goes a long way. MOJO Magazine, Sylvie Simmons Americana Album of the Month 'Chicago--urban, Midwestern, serious lack of tumbleweeds-- doesn't strike you as a hotbed of Americana, but it's making it's case, from alt countrgy godfather Jeff Tweedy to immigrants The Handsome Family. Utah Carol--named after a song sung by Marty 'Mr. Teardrop' Robbins about a cowboy who dies trying to save his friend from a stampede--are, like the Handsomes, a husband-wife team, but there the similarity ends. The latter sound like an alcoholic Johnny Cash writing the music for a David Lynch spaghetti western--Utah Carol's take is more Dolly Parton and Minutemen soundtracking a John Ford beach-party movie. A whimsical, engaging mix--alt Appalachia (fine opener My Fear), futuristic surf-folk polka (Toy Train), R&B, country rock--their voices make a nice happy-sad combination. Wonderwheel is an engaging 20-song album.'

Details

Artist: Utah Carol
Title: Wonderwheel
Genre: Rock
Release Date: 01/05/2001
Label: CD Baby
Media Format: CD
UPC: 687787790425
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