Classic Rock Alive and Well
Pittsburgh’s Carousel have released their debut album Jeweler’s Daughter, but it’s hard to think of this as “new” music. The band wears their influences on their sleeve, both in their bio and in their songs. Their website cites Motörhead, Diamond Head and Thin Lizzy and one can certainly hear elements of all of these bands in their music. But what sets this debut apart is that rather than slavishly worshipping their idols, they attempt to shine new light on them. Though somewhat derivative, Carousel have the unique ability to filter the music of their classic hard-rock heroes through a contemporary lens and this, ultimately, is where Jeweler’s Daughter’s promise and enjoyment lies.
Like many other debuts, this album suffers from some inconsistencies and repetetiveness. They consciously attempt to replicate Thin Lizzy’s dual guitar attack, but don’t always manage to transition in and out of these sections as smoothly, or do as much with their riffs, as Moore and Robinson. “Crippler” comes close to achieving Thin Lizzy’s mixture of hard-grooving riffs and melodic counterpoint and is one of the stronger songs on the record. Carousel aren’t shackled to their influences, however. Dave Wheeler’s vocals have more of Ozzy’s slightly rough edges than Phil Lynott’s somewhat cleaner tone. But the song is still an impressive arrangement with solid playing and writing exhibited throughout.
Those rougher edges don’t mean that Carousel are limited to the realms of stoner or sludge metal, however. This is a band that clearly has stoner metal inflections, but they’re ultimately a good, old-fashioned rock band. One hears Thin Lizzy and Diamond Head, but also classic staples like Deep Purple, early Rainbow and even the first (crucially underrated) Mötley Crüe record. “Light of Day” is an interesting take on riff rock, hinting at equal parts Southern rock and late ’70s-early ’80s metal, but—as they do throughout the record—Wheeler’s voice hints at more contemporary bands like Monster Magnet and maintains a love for hookiness that betrays the influence of the Foo Fighters in their high school CD collections (the opener/title-track especially hints at this).
Sometimes these references are a bit obvious, but it almost doesn’t matter. The band attacks these songs with so much enthusiasm and brings just enough of their own, more modern influences to bear on the music that one can’t help but be encouraged for what these promising players, writers, and arrangers will do for their next record. Besides, in an era of stagnate, corporate, Pro Tools’d “rock and roll,” it’s good to be reminded why the classics are classics.