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Album Review

CARINA ROUND
Things You Should Know

The digital revolution has caused a nuclear explosion of music in quantities so massive that if even you wanted to, you would have trouble finding even a small percentage of it. Information itself has at the same time experienced exponential growth, the small molehill now a mountain on its way to planet. So how do you find the good stuff these days? You network, you follow leads, you plug yourself in. It takes time and amazingly we waste more time talking about how much time we do not have than utilizing what we do. If we would only listen...

Maybe it would not make things better, but at least we would have a more diverse soundtrack to our lives and I would not have to hear complaints about there not being any good music anymore. Truth is, there is more than ever.

Carina Round, for instance. With voice a bit to the left of Kate Bush and a writing touch toward the anthemic, Round has been struggling to break through the fog for four projects now, the first being the small label- released First Blood Mystery (Animal Noise) in 2001. While that got her a deal with Interscope, little happened to her next couple of albums besides a mild critical ripple and major label heartache. By the time The Disconnection and Slow Motion Addict hit the streets (2003 and 2007, respectively), the business was in turmoil and Round, along with many other artists, were buried.

Well, it is 2009 now, by the gods, and Round is back (in fact, she never left) with a new EP and a new attitude. Tossing the old music industry paradigm aside, she chose instead to make her own music, so to speak, business and otherwise. Things You Should Know, released in May, hit the ground running more for distance than for sprints.

Beginning with Backseat, Round sets the pace, perfectly tremored voice floating over electric/electronic orchestral/choral base until building to a majestic choral finish. A good song taken over the top with a commanding resonance. Please Don't Stop starts with electronic drone, Round's voice reverbed and echoed and dramatic, the supporting music at times sparse and ethereal and at others beautiful but downright eerie. And right in the middle, the full chorus effect. Like the Robber Barons would have said--- Grand! Thief in the Sky is shades of early Kate Bush, but only in small portions. Round has her own ways of expressing herself and the Bush comparison is only for direction. Three and a half minutes into this track, though, she stacks vocals and I cannot help but remember some very beautiful moments with Bush's first album. She has a rock side, too, but saves it for effect rather than use it as genre. Do You, an elegantly constructed and hauntingly beautiful song, uses voice and melody to full effect until the end, when full rhythm guitar announces the beginning of the end. The lyrics? Along with the music, magnificent.

While it happens more than I'd like to admit, television is the new radio and Round gets a shot in an episode of The Cleaner this week, For Everything a Reason utilized in some fashion. I could hear it. Lyrics, music, mood--- it spells downer, but in a very melodic and powerful and, oddly, hopeful way.

Carina Round is not totally unknown, you know. She has shared the stage with a few heavyweights and has gained a certain amount of respect. She even has her fans. But as good as this EP is, she deserves more. Stop by her MySpace page and watch a video or two, maybe listen to some tracks all the way through. See if I'm not right.

Frank O. Gutch Jr.

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