Carlton Melton - Always Even

by Steve Reynolds Rating:9 Release Date:2013-09-23

Carlton Melton: I'm guessing most folk aren't familiar with the name or their output. Apparently they play psych rock - well, that's what I've been told!

Always Even is their new album and a flick to the minimal track-listing on the back cover may disappoint some, but only in the fact that there are only five songs. However, what they fail to tell you is that all their material is longer than four minutes. One, 'Sarsen', clocks in a at nine, and the finale, 'The Splurge', is 10-plus.

Opener 'Slow Wake' sums up the title accordingly. A slow burner, layered with tinkered electronics and finger picked guitar. Free of drums and percussion it's a false dawn of what is about to be unearthed.

'Keeping On' is powerful, accompanied by a stoic drum pattern. Rich Millman's twisted keyboard squelch and fuzz, juxtaposed by a wall of guitar jamming, is the real centre of the album and illuminates everything you need to know about Carlton Melton. It has much more of a post-rock/no wave feel about it, a correlation to the trappings of Goo-era Sonic Youth at times.

But the pedal is off on the dark and rolling 'Spiderwebs'. Most of the focus is on the iridescent guitar and transient keyboards that sit subtlety while remaining relevant and ubiquitous. 'Sarsen' is a molten rock ball of power, switching codes constantly, one minute firing on all cylinders with a feedback-drenched guitar, the next giving it the large one with a truckload of powerhouse drums.

Halfway through, they step back and reassess - and what a reassessment it is. It's like they've been beaten down and are awaiting the return of the cavalry. Oh hang on, here it comes courtesy of mangled keyboards and a bastard behemoth of a solo. A virtuoso triptych.

'The Splurge' is a doom-laden finale. It's cranky, restless and uncomfortable, and the band chuck every sound in their eclectic collection into it. Moving, introspective and visceral, it gives the listener a real insight into what makes Carlton Melton tick.

After a hefty listen to Always Even, I'd say putting five tracks on this album is a disappointment, mainly because I am craving to hear so much more. It's such a brilliant, laser-guided listen from beginning to end. It's definitely an album to be included in the best of 2013 if there is any real justice out there.

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