Wanna know the way to my heart? Three little words: Melodic, pop, punk. It’s the magic spell that moves this mountain. And so, I find myself, currently, twirling. My hands are in the air and my mouth is stretched into the grandest of grins.
I’m listening to Carousel King’s Charm City, and I’m giddy.
Carousel Kings hail from Lancaster, PA, and have been gaining ground on the scene since 2009. Their newest EP, Charm City was just released February of 2017 and entered the iTunes rock charts at #14, thanks to a loyal (and smart) fanbase. Their Facebook page states:
Charm City is about that dream place, a trippy world shared by all, yet unique to the individual. “This is the place where I go in my dreams,” says [David] Alexander. “I want to connect the listener to my Charm City, and realize that they too can envision and live in their own Charm City whenever they want to.
Why do we like pop-punk? Energy, angst and sweet, sweet, vocals dripping with irony and anger. Carousel Kings have all that in abundance, so it makes it fairly impossible to highlight only a few songs from Charm City. The project from start to finish is delicious. I will however, share some of my favorite moments.
“Here Now Forever” drops a heavy dime in the pop-punk ballad toll booth, while pulling strings connected to memories buried deep in your heart. David Alexander’s chill-inducing falsetto in “Glory Days,” brings out the mamma bear in me. “Darling please don’t let me down / I’m not really trying to drown.” Don’t hurt him. I have sharp claws and I’m not afraid to bite you.
“Unconditionally” might be my favorite song on Charm City. The cadence in the verses is infectious, easily on par with the recent, mega-charting, twenty one pilots or The Chainsmokers. We’re given the patented break-my-heart-why-don’t-you formula: verse, verse, haunting echo, dreamy break, gorgeous full-bodied chorus, leading back to the refrain. People will sing along to this, quote me. By the way, Katy Perry if you’re listening, this is how you phrase a multisyllabic word.
The playfulness of this genre makes deep lyrics optional. I’m okay if you wrap a catchy melody around a universal theme (you broke my heart/you horrid girl/I will write songs about you forever/and I’ll never love again). So, songs like “Something Isn’t Right” and “Charm City” are a pleasant treat. They present stories that are not universal, but rather deeply personal, and they do it with poetic grace. “I think my confidence stems from common sense” and “I choked all my demons. I have scars to show” (nod to Bring Me the Horizon) delight and surprise me. Telling stories with lyrical bliss? Yes, please.
Finding ways to break through the hypnotic quality of pop punk takes careful consideration. The structure can lull you into a trance, and yet with Charm City I find myself jolted to awareness over and over again. It calls your attention forward with its balance of pop punk sensibilities juiced up with a little old school alt punk. It offers some inspiration, some urging toward happiness, some wallowing in misery, and some twirling with arms outstretched. Check out Carousel King’s Charm City and join me as we dance, dance our way to revelation.
Carousel Kings is:
- David Alexander (vocals)
- Will Barovick (guitar, vocals)
- Danny Wilkins (drums)
- Cody Williams (bass, vocals)
- Clint Tustin (touring guitar)