The Chicago based music label Victory Records has over the years signed quite a few solid bands, bands like Taking Back Sunday, A Day To Remember and Bayside come immediate to mind. Victory Records has had multiple records that have exceeded the 250,000 sales mark, including some gold records as well. Originally the key focus from the label was instituted on hardcore punk and post-hardcore bands, but later the record label branched out and expanded its roster to include emo and pop punk acts. This is where American easycore band Carousel Kings from Lancaster, Pennsylvania enters the picture with their 2017 album release, “Charm City”.
They originally started their career on CI Records before signing to Victory Records. “Carousel Kings began in 2009 with the release of their EP Here Comes Trouble. The band released their first full-length album titled Speak Frantic in 2010. In March 2012 the band released their second album titled A Slice Of Heaven. In November 2012 the band released an EP titled Road Warrior. Two years later the band released their third album titled Unity via CI Records” – Wikipedia
So what can I say about “Charm City”, the band’s latest release on Victory Records? Well we see straight off the bat that they have been around for some time. Now that they are in a relationship with Victory Records could this be the moment for them, where they shine? Remembering it’s not just the label that makes the band, it’s also the talent of the individuals within the band, and together with the label, and the strength of that relationship will in some ways dictate the success of that band. It’s a two street like any relationship.
On full complete soaking in of the album, one hears a band that has travelled a journey, and has over time crafted a sound that is their own. Maybe this is why I think, “Charm City”, could be that album for them. It has a depth and range to it that many pop punk bands just don’t have. I use the word, “pop-punk” loosely, as the album is NOT a punk-pop release, but has elements of pop punk in its formula, and to box them up as that would limit the overall range of the creativity of the band, and would paint a false picture of them to you the reader.
This imaginative album sets a blaze with songs like ‘Glory Daze’, ‘Something Isn’t Right’ and ‘Dynamite’. What you get is a band that will swoon you with easy-core moments on one song, then break in to the alternative rock arena tune the next and every now and then they will throw some good solid riffage for good measure. The songs are catchy with some great choruses throughout. One stand out quality of the band throughout is the solid riffing that the band are able to serve up, leaving you continually surprised from start to end.
Carousel Kings find themselves in a unique position with, ‘Charm City’, in that they have managed to produce an album that is of its own, giving the band an open door in the point of being able to offer prospective fans something fresh and new, and not wholly loaded on the whole punk pop wagon. That’s where it wins as an album for me. ‘Charm City’ is a superbly recorded album, offering 13 songs of impeccable quality, and fits in the Victory family of releases perfectly in my books. Primarily the door is standing open for the Carousal Kings. If I were to find criticism, and this is me really digging and scratching hard to find fault beneath the surface, like real deep, is that perhaps the songs are to clean, the production can to a seasoned ear in the music environment come over too perfect. This might make the album good for a couple listens and thereafter be shelved, as I believe it somewhat mutes the energy the band has. It’s solely my opinion, and to be honest I am really digging deep here, because when you hear stadium stand on their feet tracks like ‘Bad Habit’, and ‘Fractals’, you’ll be convinced how a good an album this really is, and ultimately that clean cut production I am scratching at would be a mere thought lost in the distance as you are kept on your feet.
Carousel Kings, “Charm City” is filled with addictive riffs, having on one side that indie vibrancy yet mixed on the other side with a sort of hardcore pop punk sensibility. “Charm City” is a solid release that sets the band on course to potential success from start to end. If they keep it up like they have on this album release, I believe many doors of opportunity would be opened to these guys and within that the future will be good to them.
Written by Donovan de Necker
01) Grey Goose
02) Glory Daze
03) Here, Now, Forever
04) Bad Habit
05) Something Isn’t Right (Featuring: Dustin Davidson)
06) Hate Me, Love Me
07) Charm City
11) Punch Drunk
12) Fool’s Gold
13) You Never Will
David Alexander (vocals)
Will Barovick (guitar, vocals)
Danny Wilkins (drums)
Cody Williams (bass)
2009 – Here Comes Trouble (EP)
2010 – Speak Frantic
2012 – A Slice of Heaven
2012 – Road Warrior (EP)
2014 – Unity
2014 – Duality (Acoustic album)
2015 – Three Christmas Classics (Split w/ The Great Heights Band)
2017 – Charm City
Record Label: Victory Records, Feb. 2017
Video for: ‘Grey Goose’