I’ve seen Carcrashlander compared to Randy Newman and I can’t stand Randy Newman. After listening to the debut album (and first release by green-focused Parks and Records), one of two things must be true: Either the Randy Newman comparison is inaccurate or I need to reconsider my feelings about him. Or perhaps there is a third possibility: Carcrashlander gets very close to a line (that Newman crosses) which divides good from cheesy. One thing I know though, is that this album is really, really good.
Carcrashlander is really Cory Gray who played with the haunting Desert City Soundtrack. While this is somewhat of a departure from that band’s work, it maintains the same quirkiness. The piano-driven music is dynamic, countered by low-key, droning vocals. Dissonance tugs on the album’s pop elements, making it colorful and multi-dimensional. At times, the ambient noise behind the piano gives it an airy trippiness reminiscent of pre-Dark Side Pink Floyd’s more mellow moments. At other times, it shifts back and forth between poppiness and moodiness. Sometimes the songs fall into schmaltzy piano pop and other times they expand out into a bit of free jazz.
Occasionally, Carcrashlander falls into the singer-songwriter trap of craft taking precedence over emotion, but more often it finds a way of being oddly comforting in its sadness and moodiness. Both musically and emotionally, the album seems to be on different pages at the same time, but it somehow finds an alternate synchronization that is pretty amazing.