A short time ago, I did a quick review of Caroline Lufkin‘s 2006 album Murmurs. It’s only fitting that I now do one on her latest record Verdugo Hills which was released January 25th, 2011. As with her previous record, Caroline stays close to her slower tempo and whisper-like voice roots with this record, providing a harmonious and pleasing sound while delivering the goods as far as quality.
Diving right in, the opening track “Balloons” gives you a feeling of listlessness as you are slowly lifted off your feet by Caroline’s haunting and caressing voice, a very slow drum beat releasing you of your stressful day. The song is rather short, clocking in at only 1 minute and 16 seconds, but it’s clear that it’s not meant to make much of an impression beyond the fact that it prepares you for what’s to come later in the record.
The second track is, by far, the sweet and heart warming Caroline that we all know and love. Starting with a wispy and ghost like voice, “Swimmer” explores your inner most feelings as its slow tempo and complementing lyrics wrap their soul around you and pull you onto an imaginary dance floor, compelling you to move along with them. Caroline’s voice doesn’t plead with you to join her, but you begin to feel that if you don’t, you will miss out on the solace and serenity she brings to the proposed meeting. As the track wraps up, you feel the urge to have her continue singing, only you know that this kind of exuberance cannot last forever.
Track 10 is another that doesn’t fail to deliver classic Caroline, but this time with a little more than you expect. With some of her songs, Caroline, at times, seems like a minimalist when it comes to her voice. You feel as if she were holding back from you so that she would be able to impress you with her light and satisfying voice without giving it all away too soon. Occasionally, she does purposely bring a little more for you to yearn for. “Gone” is just such a track where she offers you more flexibility in respect to her vocal talent. The song is also more up tempo which also lends reverence to her ability to offer more than just a few airy-voiced slow songs. While it is still very much a Caroline song, it lets you know that she is willing to go to a few different areas musically so that she can offer her listeners more variety and prove that she isn’t some one-trick pony.
While I do appreciate her obviously singing ability, the song “Waltz” offers very little of it as far as quantity. Lending her voice to the track for only a handful of lines forces you to appreciate the tune itself and the music quality. The few times we hear her voice is pleasing, but it’s absence, at times, leaves you feeling empty and slightly unfulfilled. Knowing how distinctive her voice is, I am sure Caroline purposely selected it’s pronounced absence from the song, asking her audience to really give credit to the music used and not just her vocals.
Looking back and re-listening to Murmurs definitely lets me know that Caroline, in a musical sense, is still the same woman she was in 2006. She does expand upon her original idea though, leaving you with a strong sense of satisfaction for purchasing Verdugo Hills. While I have listened to her 2008 release of the Murmurs remixes, I still find the original much more pleasing to the ear, but that is simply my personal preference as I have grown so fond of her voice. With Caroline, I find myself appreciating her work though so I do still, from time to time, listen to the remixes. I will however say that her vocals in some of those tunes is so choppy it takes away from what I love about her the most.
If you haven’t done so already, definitely check her out on iTunes and Amazon and give her a listen. If you haven’t heard the track “Swimmer,” I have included a link to her song on youtube so give her a listen when you have the time. You may find that she will, with a single song, change your taste in music.
It’s not often that you run into a musical artist with any sort of true talent as far as vocals, let alone writing. In today’s music industry, it can sometimes feel as if we are being spoon fed manufactured pop music which is no better for your soul than fast food is for your health. Through my various ventures in the world of music outside of the United States, I’ve happen upon a handful of truly terrific artists who definitely bring something to the table when it comes to real talent. One of my first discoveries was Olivia Lufkin. With her array of pop, rock, punk, electronica and, at times, borderline metal sounds, I figured her for one in a million. Little did I know that musical talent seems to flow through the blood of not only her, but most of her family. While checking out the latest Olivia news, I came across a lesser know artist which turned out to be her sister, Caroline.
While not nearly as successful as her famed sister, Caroline has slowly emerged as a force in the realm of eletronica and experimental sound. While she did recently release an album in January of this year, I’d like to focus on her first full length album. Murmurs, at a glance, doesn’t seem like much, as it’s cover art lacks the flash and glamor of many Japanese Pop artists. All you see is simply a girl laying about with a flower in her hair, and across the top of her record reads simply “Caroline.” Nothing flashy in the least by todays standards, but this is a classic case of you cannot judge a book by its cover…or in this case, an album. Once you pop in your disc, you are greeted by the warm and, at times, seemingly playful voice of Caroline as she spreads her appeal out for all to admire.
The standout track, which you are sure to find on Youtube, is “Bicycle,” a haunting yet angelic tune that finds it’s way into your heart and proceeds to take you on a journey. It’s softened trumpet opening caresses your ears right before Caroline’s angelic voice pulls you in and asks you to give her your attention. It’s slower paced and story-telling theme almost reminds you of something you may have experienced in your childhood; perhaps the first time a young girl discovers love and the effect it has on her soul. As the song progresses, you are lulled into a sort of trance that envelops your senses and just as you think you have developed a liking, perhaps even a love for the journey, it is indeed over. As soon as it concludes, oddly enough, you may find yourself looking for the back button on your player, the feelings of listening to it again overtaking you.
Another standout is “Drove Me to the Wall” which has faster pacing than that of “Bicycle,” but just as haunting. It’s soft musical accompaniment works well with Caroline’s light voice as she stretches her singing talents, pulling off a superb vocal performance.
“Everylittlething,” which is spelled correctly in this case, introduces a slightly heavier electronica sound. Still bringing the goods vocally, Caroline explores a more playful and somewhat less serious side to her music while still pulling you into her world. The track sounds as if it could evolve into a dance number if she’d decided to speed up the tempo. However, you will find yourself thanking Caroline for keeping it mellow as the song brings a comfort into your heart and lets you relax instead of beating your head against a wall as most dance music seems to do.
While far from mainstream, Caroline lets everyone know that she isn’t just another Pop Princess (she is known for turning down a major label recording contract simply because they wanted to make her “too pop”) as her music and voice are more than enough to make her a well respected artist in the industry. Filled with airy and wonderful vocals as well as soothing and sometimes fragile beats, Murmurs is a rare gem in this watered down, manufactured pop era.
Picked up the latest from Soundgarden. It’s a greatest hits compilation and it has some really terrific stuff on it. It’s 2 discs with all their best known stuff plus a dvd that has all of their videos. It was $20, but well worth it seeing as how you get 24 tracks and 20 music videos. Been jamming to their stuff now for the last day or so while trying to get back into school mode. I was in class today and didn’t really feel like being there, but since it’s paid for I figured I’d at least pay attention and take notes. It was easy stuff. We didn’t have an assignment or homework in History and our English Professor flaked on us today so it was short and sweet. Still having trouble getting my last 2 books and it looks like I may have to order them online which means more waiting. The teacher for that class is pretty cool so he isn’t freaking about us getting the book, but says we definitely need to as the class goes on.
Talked to my friend on the west coast and she is dealing with some crap so I have been trying to keep her spirits up which is part of the reason I am not posting as often as I used to . That’s all fine with me though. I am not living to be a blogger, but mostly do it to keep things off my chest when there isn’t anyone to talk to. The editing on the book is still sitting, but I am expanding the idea for the follow up so it’s not as if I am sitting on my hands.