Carl Anderson – Missouri Breaks – Album Review
“The album is free. I don’t want a cent from anyone.”
Not sure how you ended up on these beautiful pages of ours Mr. Anderson, but no one escapes without getting my two cents. *drumbeat *cymbal crash – thanks folks, I’ll be here all week, try the veal, etc.
All jokes aside, that’s a quote from Carl direct, and definitely a way to get my attention right off the bat. You dig a little further into his pages online & whatnot, you might even see a banner that reads: “This album is free – this album is dedicated to those who keep music alive.” I’ve had a weird week emotionally y’all…you know I’m always kinda up & down anyway…it’s kinda the consequence of being someone that feels that connection to the songs you create in that empathic way – I take the energy on sometimes, and it can all weigh me down a lil’ bit. But this statement right here found on Carl’s page at Bandcamp…that’s the kind of inspiring stuff that revs my engine…it’s a reminder of exactly why I’m here and why I’ve chosen this specific path I’m on. I’ve struggled hard to define what the heck it is I’ve really been doing over this past near-decade now…and there it was in black & white…errr…I mean, it’s in blue & grey but you get the point, there it was – the wisdom I needed to hear & the insight I needed to see – I’m one of those people that has dedicated himself to keeping music alive! It is in fact, everything and all that I am & nothing more…and I ain’t gonna lie to ya, myself & the few people I know out there that live a life anything like I do online in the independent music realm…we can often feel unseen. So while yes, I’ve cracked a couple jokes in this intro along the way – I’d sincerely like to say THANK-YOU to Carl for that dedication…it perhaps means more to me than he might ever know…but then again, he might.
I would also like to thank him for kicking some serious ass through my speakers as well. As much as I appreciate the potential gift, it would have made for a tough report if the music to follow had sucked. No kidding, the moment that “UFO” roared into place with the live-wire instrumentation on display, the smart inclusion of spoken word in the mix, the way this music instantly came ALIVE…I mean…what can I say dear readers, dear friends? This is the kind of artist that damn near can’t help but inspire a guy like me. “UFO” is a freakin’ GRIPPING cut, played with savage proficiency & intensity to rival it…passionate stuff – the kind of efforts that pretty much leaves you speechless when you recognize the fact that Anderson is so adamant to not make a single dime off of it…you’ve heard music made out of the pure love of the craft & desire to do it before I’m sure…but honestly, I doubt that you’ve ever heard it quite like THIS. To say “UFO” is engaging would be to put it mildly AF – this is a massively enticing gateway into the rest of Missouri Breaks, in addition to basically being all I wanna listen to right now personally. This band proves they got the JUICE right off the drop, ripping right into the gnarly riffs & crunchy chords choppin’ away while the drums pound it out…”UFO” is as every bit as wild and otherworldly as it should be! Sirens goin’ off…wild “Love Buzz”-esque psychedelics driving the opening riff & spirit of this first impression…like hot damn y’all…Carl Anderson has put together an opening you can’t help but notice. Even IF you’re one of those people out there that oddly thinks instrumental-based music is incapable of moving you the same way a sing-along song can…you’re gonna be mighty surprised by how this all plays out; “UFO” is brilliantly designed, structured, executed – ALL THAT & THEN SOME – you’re gonna love it.
Yeah…you know something folks? I’m just gonna say it plain as day – you’ll be lucky in your lifetime to find music with the quality Carl Anderson has offered for free out there in this world, and you should take him up on this offer immediately & get yourselves a copy of Missouri Breaks. While I have no problemo whatsoever admitting to loving the riotous energy of “UFO” – the real truth is that something like “The Capsule” is way more my jam…and all-in-all, I ain’t even remotely lyin’ to ya when I say it’s one of my favorite cuts of 2021. LISTEN to the way this thing builds will ya? It’s like Carl’s gone straight to the school of The Cure when they got into the real atmospheric depths of their Post Punk vibes in the mid-90s…and then you’ve got surrounding instrumentation that would be easily akin to a Mogwai, Tortoise, or even Explosions In The Sky like brilliance. I am such a fan of Spoken Word stuff that every time a new sample was introduced, Carl had me hooked all over again…but like, on a completely different level, you dig? The music itself is beyond compare…I absolutely LOVE everything I hear on “The Capsule” and I’m genuinely astonished by how much heart, sincerity, and passion you can audibly hear in the musicianship. Carl and his cohorts you’ll find featured on different cuts throughout this record…they all WANT to be here just as much as he does – and you can HEAR that…and it’s amazing, truly. There’s a care being taken here for the music that can only come out of true dedication to the craft and equal interest…the balances of strengths on display throughout “The Capsule” should pretty much blow your mind, even with it being as relatively subtle as it appears to be. The intensity, the power behind each note & every beat from the drums…the resounding CONVICTION you can hear these guys play with & the confidence they have in this material…absolutely everything adds up, 100%. Listen to moments like you’ll find around the 2:45 mark with the cello and drums just crushin’ it would ya? How the guitars come back to put the icing on the cake around the 3:10 mark? How the Spoken Word samples aren’t just cool to listen to, they’re freakin’ twisted & unique in all the right ways. I ask you dear readers, dear friends…sincerely – what in the all hell is not to love about “The Capsule?”
OKAY. Prepare to have thy faces MELTED from the heat they generate on “Blue Wild Angel” – you best put a lil’ distance between yourself & your speakers lest you get all-out SCORCHED by the energy you’ll find in this cut. Serious shout-outs to Jim Dooley on the drums – this guy is an all-out ANIMAL with octopus arms, a powerful grip on the stick that can’t be denied, and the ability to wield it like a sword. Slicin’ up the beats with toms abound, “Blue Wild Angel” makes sensational use of its length, exploding into place just past the thirty-second mark, and roaring on from there for a relentless ride full of the kind of meaty vibes, twists, and turns you wanna hear. Listen to the dimension & depth in the guitars and the production here…it’s like hearing something like Failure or Quicksand with added clarity…you can hear the intensity and how that enhances the dynamics of each & every part. Carl and Jim play so brilliantly together, no set of functioning ears could conclude otherwise – it’s THAT apparent at all times – and they are absolutely kickin’ out the jams through “Blue Wild Angel.” Whether in the throes of a melodic breakdown, or ripping into their wildest psychedelic solos – which are AMAZING on “Blue Wild Angel” incidentally – the point is, one way or the other, you can’t help but give your full attention to music like Carl Anderson is making. Like audible elbows being caught on your chin, the punch this song packs proves this dude is a verifiable force to be reckoned with…obviously you can hear Carl would shake the walls on his own if he was left to his own devices with what he lays out on “Blue Wild Angel” – he simply guarantees that’s gonna happen with the addition of Jim’s thunderous storming of the drums. Unified together…good lord y’all…these two cannot be beat…you’ll rarely, if ever, hear a duo this great. Additional shout-outs to Marvin Menz who produced the album with Carl & also mixed & mastered the record – Menz obviously understood the exact sound that Anderson wanted with execution like this.
The samples…the SAMPLES…are so bloody genius that it’s impossible to describe. It’s not JUST what’s being said, it’s where it’s all placed & the space created in the music for these words to make an impact on us as we listen. “Machina” gives you another highlight example of this in action, with children doing their level best to stammer out the potential horrors of the battle between humans & machines still on our horizon. Make no mistake y’all…I am DEFINITELY in the camp of people that believes that & don’t let anyone tell ya otherwise – you heard it direct from me, them machines ARE gonna consume us one way or the other one day. The only real question I have is whether or not we’ll actually be able to resist or fight back against it at all…or if we’ll even have the will or desire to by then…other than that, yep, I’m pretty convinced the machines will take us the hell out one day. Maybe it’s not guns blazing like we’ve seen in the movies…maybe it’s as simple as we never have the will to look up out of our phones…maybe it sounds like this song does after it’s already started & the impending apocalypse is currently in motion! Maybe…just maybe…I’M A ROBOT, and I’m capable of writing thousands of music reviews with some kind of human (okay, barely) personality? You just don’t KNOW, for sure, anymore do you? Full 100%? “Machina” deals with automation…and the killer chill that runs through the music will tell you just about everything you need to know about what it all implies…this is subtle intensity at its absolute finest. I bet Carl Anderson would absolutely love the band Oavette that I latched onto not too long ago after hearing their single “NEUS” – you can definitely make comparisons within the precision musicianship & low-key intensity that results…your ears will want to absorb every solitary morsel of sound Carl wants to play. “Machina” keeps its intensity, mischief, and mayhem under tight mechanical control…and the constant click of the stick on the snare is an insightful way of communicating both the coldness of the concept, in tandem with warning us tick by precious tick, that the time is running out on the collective clocks we’re watching. Never trust them machines I say! Of course, if I AM a robot, that’s just what I’d want you to think, and what I’d say to throw you off as well, wouldn’t it? And then I’d write it down here in black & white, telling you directly what I’m doing to throw you off even more. Down the rabbit hole we go y’all!
How deadly is “The Devil’s Jazz,” you ask? C’mon now…you’ve been reading this review so far, correct? What do you THINK might be the case at this point? Obviously it’s killer – that’s all Carl Anderson seems to know how to be! Enlisting the talents of Jordan Mazza on the saxophone…the call & answer style of this song proves just how insightful Carl is as an artist – again, you’ve probably heard call & answer designs in music before, but once more, it’s doubtful you’ve ever heard it done like THIS. These guys light it UP with personality, charisma, and undeniable chemistry…the musicianship on this entire album & certainly upon this song as well, is just outstanding, full-stop. I haven’t heard a damn thing I’d dare suggest they’d change, and I hear no reasons whatsoever that they don’t have one of the most engaging records you’re gonna hear from start to finish this year by this point on Missouri Breaks. “The Devil’s Jazz” is no small task – this behemoth pulls weight that stretches the experience over nine-plus minutes. LISTEN to these samples at work & the roll they play though…it’s more than significant – it’s how Carl is genuinely communicating to us, and it’s the real basis for how these songs connect like the stories they become…you get so much out of an experience like this as a listener, I can’t even begin to express. The degree of art & craft on Missouri Breaks is second to none…”The Devil’s Jazz” will expand through Rock, Orchestral, Blues, Jazz, and more as it plays on…and I promise ya, there’s not a second to be had where you’ll find your attention wandering or that you’ve become bored. A spectacular feat for any cut over four or five minutes to begin with – Carl takes on nearly double that length and releases an all-out mesmerizing gem that speaks volumes on behalf of his artistic inclinations and pure commitment to the art of making music. Is it for everyone? Maybe, maybe not…it’s as ambitious as it is Progressive when it comes right down to it. It’s for me – that’s what I know for sure – because “I’m not the average person.”
If you’re one of them music mathematicians, you’ll love the way “Rivets” is designed. I’m not – I’m as dumb as a rock – I just know when I hear things that are more complex timing-wise, even if I have no actual concept of what the formula would be or what that pace equates to. As I always tell ya, I just know what sounds good, no more, no less – I’m a simple man, but I can recognize when things aren’t just played in a simple 4/4. “Rivets” is a master-class in precision, passion, and powerfully bold music all in one – from the intensity of the drums to the distance in the mix on the guitars, to the gripping way this duo of Jim & Carl play this together on such an impeccably unified front…I mean…yo – what ELSE could you possibly want other than exactly what these guys have been givin’ ya at every opportunity? “Rivets” is riveting – that’s not a pun, it’s a fact – know the difference. And if you don’t know the difference, make sure you have a listen – the music will prove it much better than my words ever could. The second shortest track on the record by comparison to the rest, you’ve never heard 3:35 cruise by so quickly after how much longer the rest of the set has been so far…so you get to the end and you’re like, well okay that was great & all, but that’s just you guys getting warmed up for the second half, ain’t it? This time around, that’s not the case – that 3:35 is merely all you get…I wish I could tell ya that Carl and Jim weren’t clearly such slackers, but alas, here we are right? I’m kidding of course – it’s short, but they have put in no less effort into the way they play this cut or the talent it would take to play it, promise ya.
I searched to see if I could figure out any relevance to the title of “01 07 11” – but I never did find anything concrete that I could pin down to the date, or how it might relate to the Missouri Breaks record. Not saying it doesn’t bear some relevance, I’m sure it does – and maybe I just need to pound more keys into my search engines to solve the mystery, or acknowledge the simple fact that sometimes mysteries are best left unsolved. I just happen to write about music every day, so the behind the scenes inspirations & details are pieces of information that I’m always interested, so I at least give it the ol’ college try in putting the puzzle together if I’m presented with a few clues. The real truth is, the piano-led/string combination in the melody & ample melancholy of “01 07 11” tells its own story…it’s one of the most evocative & thought-provoking tracks on the entire record, even despite it being just over the two-minute mark. This is a level beyond though – I would think after what we’ve all experienced so far in listening to Missouri Breaks that “01 07 11” is almost going to be an unexpected surprise for most – and a stellar one at that. Obviously I’ve implied that it ain’t gonna be the happiest song you’re going to hear this year, and that is indeed the reality – but it might very well be one of the most compelling and engaging experiences you’ll have in 2021. The emotional weight in this song is heavy as heavy can be – and we can only assume that whatever transpired on “01 07 11” was probably not so much fun at all, if not an outright life-changing event that’s still as present in Carl’s mind today as if it happened yesterday. A different dimension of the depth & dynamics you’ll find at work on Missouri Breaks, “01 07 11” is a real low-key moment and subtly devastating…by the time you realize just how heavy this shroud of emotional sound truly is, the full weight is already upon you and bearing down brutally upon your soul. As much as I love this song – and I truly do – I can also readily acknowledge there’s something really tough about listening to “01 07 11” that feels so incredibly personal, revealing, fragile, and breakable.
In wrapping it up with his title-track, it’s basically all I can do to remain sitting in this chair typing instead of standing up & cheering this finale in full salute – Carl deserves ALL the accolades he’s received in this review & then some – I’ve told you all a million times I’m not here to pump tires or rub nuts, just call it all like I hear it. Anderson is clearly not gonna be the type to hype up what he’s accomplished here, so truly, I’ve got no choice but to step in and do that on his behalf; out of respect for who HE is, and definitely with respect to what he’s created on Missouri Breaks. To me, there’s not a doubt in my mind that this belongs right up there with the best of the best you’re gonna hear this year – he’s damn near heading into Pink Floyd terrain on “Missouri Breaks” – a combination of sound that’s like an incredible meeting between their early psychedelic inspirations & artistic fearlessness led by Barrett, and the ultra-confident & groundbreaking musicianship you discover in the later years of their career led by Gilmour. Tell me you don’t want some of that just by reading that description y’all – you KNOW you do! And I promise ya, Carl Anderson will go on to back up my words until you see they’re the gospel truth – this track ends the album on an astounding final cut that’s as understated as understated can be. A vehicle for the Spoken Word inclusions to make an impact on ya, you’ll hear how the music spreads out into the atmosphere, and you’ll hear every zany moment of the bizarre tale being told over top…family details, personal details, a reference even to the title of the album itself, right before the song burst open and comes ALIVE with instrumentation ablaze. Fired up guitars, MEATY bass-lines that rumble with perfect tone, powerfully rock-hard hits on the snare & slick cymbals from Jim…and just relentlessly killer ideas that savage their way through this entire song…fast or slow, it doesn’t matter, it’s all audibly amazing. “Oh do you believe me?” – I sure hope ya do, I’ve been tellin’ ya the straight-ahead for years & years now…but part of me always hopes you don’t too…that you question my judgment, which you should – and just listen. The music will always speak more truths than I ever could – and this record speaks LOUD in that regard – I have no problem at all tellin’ ya that Missouri Breaks is one of my favorites of this year.
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