Michael Carpenter: Baby

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By ="Description" CONTENT="Michael Carpenter, Baby (Not Lame) rating: 8.5, review by David Fufkin

Michael records for The Not Lame Recording Company, a label that is renowned for power pop or Beatles-influenced pop. In recent years, this label has released some of the finest recordings in any genre (The Rooks, The Shazam, Starbelly and Myracle Brah to name a few). On an underground level, Not Lame has become to pop what Stax/Volt was to soul.

This is the debut from Mr. Carpenter, hailed by some as the next Brad Jones (producer of The Shazam and the pop classic Kon Tiki by Cotton Mather). Indeed, his production skills are noteworthy here. However, the strength here are the songs.

Baby opens with “Thinking About You,” a beautifully arranged song reminiscent of the Boys from Hawthorne, CA. He wears the Brian Wilson influence on his sleeve, but the recording never gets bogged down by the pervasive imprint on the sound. The second track could be a major radio hit, opening with a harmonica intro, settling into a jangly warm bed of guitars, using organ to great effect as a base for the chorus. This song, “She Dreams,” is particularly strong because it really seems to come from the heart, a place that great songs from great artists come from. The third track, “Tonight’” has the greatest middle 8 (the middle part of the song) I’ve heard in years, again, a testament to his writing skill. Without going track by track, “Changes” gives me the same feeling that “Ecstacy” by Raspberries does (this is a very good thing), and the following track, “You’re the One,” is a rocker that creates so much tension in the prechorus waiting for the chorus that I feel like my head will pop off. Air guitar will have to do.

This Australian gentleman (I refuse to say This Man from Down Under…) is just scratching the surface here. I can’t wait for the next one. For now, buy this gem from Not Lame. You won’t be disappointed.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/carpentermichael-baby/