This ‘Ocean Carolina’ article was written by Bex Suchecki, a GIGsoup contributor
‘Ocean Carolina’ is the brainchild of Michael Simone, a musician who decided on a change of direction following a career as an Electronic Dance producer whilst having an interest in contrasting musical genres. In 2009, the Brooklyn based band was born. Joining Simone were guitarists Jon Graboff, Dave Wanamaker, bassist Alex Cox and drummer Tony Leone. The result is a collective of ‘Americana’ styled ‘Acoustic Rock’ and ‘Maudlin days’ is the follow up effort to previous album ‘All the Way Home’ (2012).
Opener ‘All I Can Do’ instantly sets a country vibe and the soothing yet weary vocal style of Simone is apparent as he wails ‘All I wanna do is get out of my head, get out of my heart… Linger on those maudlin days, it’s all I can do’. A combination of delicate acoustic and intense electric guitar led sound paint an ‘Americana’ styled picture. ‘Cry Baby Cry’, whilst maintaining elements of the trademark style and lyrical misery of ‘O.C’, is a strong example of an original acoustic ballad. It becomes apparent that the album is telling an honest account of destructive relationships and perhaps pretty heavily, lacking optimism lyrically. A good example of Simone’s Lyrical ‘Pessimism’ includes statements such as ‘Nobody wants to cry, nobody wants to lose’.
Forget a general presumption of the musical journey that ‘Ocean Carolina’ are heading on in terms of album style (Lazy, Folky, Americana) because – ‘If It Burns Out Bright’ is heavier, energetic and demands more from individual instruments and Simone’s vocal. In fact, lyrically it is somewhat more hopeful. For those that enjoy the somewhat heavier offerings that rock music inspires, ‘Something’ is reminiscent of up tempo track ‘If it burns out bright’ and adds a tad more variation to the 12 track album that consists mainly of delicate acoustic tracks with a country vibe. This track demands more of the band as a unit whilst tinged with the familiar lyrical angst and desperation.
The most intriguing track of the album is ‘Summersmile’ – an optimistic offering which bridges acoustic and pop and whilst slightly ‘off course’ from previous numbers, is strangely reminiscent of early tracks by 90’s brit pop band ‘Oasis’. Considering that this is a 12 track album of mainly ‘Americana’, be prepared to be pleasantly surprised to come across strong, memorable tracks such as ‘Little Things’ – an enthusiastic rock song with a guitar solo that John Mayer could well be proud of. It becomes apparent that ‘O.C’ have adopted a willingness to experiment and embrace their musical influences, yet in an tactful manner that doesn’t undermine/neglect the band’s ole’ Americana sound. There are glimmers of the past experiences of ex producer Simone, especially when tracks occasionally jump from a layed back style/tempo to up-tempo rock whilst maintaining ‘Americana’ roots and ‘Melancholy’ lyrics as core features throughout.
‘Maudlin Days’ is certainly an apt description of a melancholic, emotive and often (Lyrically) self-pitying album. The lyrical content and country feel to the album mean that it could be deemed as occasionally somewhat predictable but the hidden gems on this album offer energy and hope.
An authentic collection of ‘Acoustic rock’ tinged ‘Americana’ and a significant step up in musical and lyrical quality from previous album ‘All the way home’.
‘Maudlin Days’ is out now via ‘Old Hand Record Company’.