Review : Carina Round - Tigermending
PopmattersI’m not entirely sure what constitutes a “cool” female artist versus a “weepy” female artist. There must be some clear definition in some music reviewer’s mind which gets flagged the moment a word or turn of phrase is used in a female artist’s song indicating that, yes, this artist is indeed “weepy” and “uncool”. I would like to know precisely what this seemingly arbitrary definition is, because at some point Carina Round became lumped into this group and I’m calling bullshit. Fans of these supposed “uncool” female artists may claim that such a delineation does not exist, but to them I say: you don’t see Ingrid Michealson reviewed or promoted on any cool indie sites.
Carina Round has been consistently (save for her misguided attempt to break into the pop scene with her full-length sophomore release Slow Motion Addict) producing solid tracks that traverse such dark subject matter that would make even PJ Harvey blush. Now, with her third full-length Tigermending it has become clear that Carina Round will never be a “big deal”, which is a travesty. A profound songwriter, Round never relies on easy tropes or predictable lyrical content. She instead prefers to beat her own drum and create music that is simultaneously influenced by those that have come before her whilst paving a path forward. She is as simple and astute as Aimee Mann, tortured and dramatic as PJ Harvey, sporadic and impulsive erratic as Bjork, and yet she cannot be a clear descendent of any of those hugely talented women. She is her own beast, and with her failed attempt to capture the heart of the mainstream behind her, she’s gone back to a more authentic sound....full text
Slantmagazine"Pick up the phone," Carina Round whispers on the opening line of her fourth album, Tigermending. That her conversation immediately takes an unexpected, heady turn ("I'm pregnant with your baby") speaks to the gift for misdirection that makes Round such a compelling artist. There are a lot of things she does well, but it's that particular talent that marks the album as an invigorating return to form following 2011's subdued Early Winters EP.
Round has drawn favorable comparisons to PJ Harvey throughout her career, and, particularly as a lyricist, she continues to mine territory similar to Harvey's on Tigermending's strongest tracks. With a focus on a pregnancy and an elliptical recounting of a fever dream, "Pick Up the Phone" immediately evokes Harvey's "When Under Ether," but the shifts in the dynamics of "Pick Up the Phone" heighten the dramatic arc of Round's narrative. "Girl and the Ghost" speaks of its protagonist's "whole world exploding in flashes of fire," and the song's arrangement reflects that in its severe shifts from a straightforward, acoustic-based track to a furious, prog-inspired anthem.
That forward-thinking use of dynamics and tone is indicative of the approach Round and co-producer Dan Burns take over the course of Tigermending. If there's nothing as flat-out creepy or off-kilter as "Into My Blood" and "Lacuna" from The Disconnection, standout tracks like "Mother's Pride" and "You and Me," on which the multi-tracked vocals make it sound as though Round is rallying a full-fledged army to help her search for a lost love, demonstrate a real mastery of developing and sustaining a mood of unease. Even a song like "Set Fire," which starts off as a fairly straightforward bit of advice ("Sensitive one, are you cruel or are you just abused?"), takes a dark, visceral turn ("When you find the truth/Cut it out with a razor blade") and becomes a stern admonition, with a powerful backing track that reflects the pointed intent of Round's narrator.
Tigermending trades equally in healing and destruction, and Round's versatile performances are effective in selling both of those competing forces. If there's a knock against the album, it's that the high drama of its production intermittently pulls focus from Round's thoughtful, evocative vocal turns, which showcase the breadth of her range on tracks like "The Last Time" and "Marcel Marcel." That said, Round and Burns rarely keep their focus fixed on any one aspect of the album's narratives, arrangements, or performances for very long, and it's that constant sense of movement that makes Tigermending feel so wonderfully alive....full text
MxdwnLike Florence (of the Machine fame), she opens her mouth and lets forth her lungs. Unlike Florence, her voice is flawless – fluttering effortlessly from angelic heights to primordial depths with shocking ease. Her low belt is as powerful as Amanda Palmer; as moving as Edith Piaf. Beyond this, there’s no comparing her to another musician. She is far too epic to be tied down to the pop landscape of mere mortals.
Tigermending is Ms. Round’s latest album, five years in the making. Since her last release, she’s become a part of the Puscifer touring band; expanding her fanbase to its present blend of art freaks and alt-metal enthusiasts. Her new music carries a rougher edge, but it becomes her so very well! The low end, the loudness, the howling passion of it all – it’s a challenge not to be swept up in the storm that Carina has created.
The album kicks off with a kick in the face: “pick up the phone/I’m pregnant with your baby,” and it’s a wild ride from there. Lead single “The Last Time,” plays on levels both expansive and intimate with a lyric-narrative leading down a twisted, haunted trail. “Weird Dream” is fantastic and lives up to its title – it’s a rock song held hostage in a Salvador Dali clock shop....full text
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