I stumbled upon Carina Round through an invitation from my friend Karen Sundell. She was partnering with Heidi Margot Richman for Carina’s EPK and showcase at Bordello’s for the release of Slowmotion Addict. I had come from Helms Bakery in Culver City in a sustained rush to capture this moment with this raven haired beauty with a bob hair cut, knit cap and Flapper-ish inspired gear holding the stage down with presence, grace and rare talent. I walked in ready to capture the moment with my new smart phone with snippets of low quality video and photos. Carina was crooning Downslow, a mix of Betty Boop, Mazzy Star and PJ Harvey. I was a smitten kitten! Soon, I was huddled near Karen and Heidi while we all riffed on her sound. Bordello’s provided an intimate environment for this showcase/press junket/debut of Carina’s latest work, Slow Motion Addict. Lina Lecaro from the LA Weekly was in attendance with whoever represented The LA Times and People Magazine. There were yummy treats and delicious beverages provided making the event special and chic. After a polished lively set from Carina and crew, they joined us. Her, they and we were chumming about and we were all offered introductions to one another that was then followed by a video interview of Carina by Karen and Heidi for her EPK. She was a complete doll: all bright eyed and lively; so very excited for her new release. I have to say I became a fan!
Over the last 5 years Carina has taken up roots here in Los Angeles to establish herself as a force in the Singer Songwriter genre. She regularly sells out Hotel Cafe. She hooked up with Maynard Keenan of Tool to become a foundational part of Puscifer‘s sound. At the same time she found time to release an EP called Things You Should Know. To add to it all this she formed an Alternative Country band with Justin Rutledge, Dan Burns and Zac Rae called Early Winter. So it appears with that much talent she finds herself with many fingers into lots of different pies!
Carina has effectively grown, morphed and recreated herself to emerged with a new sense of maturity and confidence that has delivered to us her new offering, Tigermending. The album is a powerful force that embraces dark and bracing themes with lush dense soundscapes that both challenge and delights the listener. It’s an impressive work that bares repeated listenings to completely grasp the direction and concept driving it. It isn’t as bleak as The Cure‘s Pornography but it is as dense and upon many listenings Tigermending has the effect like The Beat‘s Wha’ppen? had on me when I first encountered it. Both Pornography and Wha’ ppen? were watershed and defining recording that built both bands reprutations. Both served up powerful driving messages that infect your soul. This is the kind of company Carina Round’s Tigermending finds itself in from many listenings.
With the release of Tigermending Carina wasted no time in bringing her live performance of the new album to those of us here on the west coast before she heads out on the road with Puscifer later this year. I caught her second public show at The Satellite in Silverlake. She had a show the night before in my old stomping grounds in San Diego at The Casbah. This night she was accompanied by Sam Stewart, son of Dave Stewart & Siobhan Fahey, and Claire Acey, both of Nightmare and the Cat, singer/songwriter Sierra Swan is the daughter the singer/songwriter Billy Swan, Matt McJunkins of A Perfect Circle and Zack Rae Keyboardist for Gnarls Barkley and Alanis Morisette. It was quite a stunning group of talent in one intimate club! This all explained the line I found outside The Satellite at 9PM. Not customarily the time for lines start outside this club in Silverlake.
The night kicked off with High Duchess a two piece in the mold of The White Stripes laid out a solid opening set. Then they were followed by the keyboard rich Anna Wayland, who is reminiscent of a more emotionally charged variation of Berlin who beefed up the crowd with their own fan base. Aaron Lariviere of Walking Sleep jump started my brain with the Berlin reference. Then the room changed dramatically as both Matt McJunkins and Billy Howerdel of A Perfect Circle who acoustically preformed two songs as Child or The Child, before Carina and her band occupied the stage. The crowd was mesmerized in a static formation for this short set. The set was so short that I couldn’t weasel my way in for a good shot. After all I was there for a riveting performance of Tigermending.
It wasn’t long before Carina took the stage with the above mentioned indeviduals taking their spots to light into the new album. She started with, what I consider the bracing, Pick Up The Phone. I believe these feelings I have are generated by the many times I expected to get one of those unexpected “Pick Up The Phone” messages through out my life. Soon, her song The Last Time found it place on stage with the entry of Sierra Swan, who joined Claire Acey on backing vocals for this song only. Both songs are mid-tempo numbers with dryly treated lead vocals. But The Last Time connects on some level using influences from Maynard Keenan in its drive and rhythm. Likely, a gift picked up by working with Maynard. The interlude drops from the original theme musically, near the end of the song, where you find youself swirling in Sierra Swan and Claire Acey’s backing vocals. The sound of these women conjures up the ghostly feelings you get when listening to The Bulgarian State Radio & Television Female Choir. That 30 seconds adds immense magic to the song before you’re hurdle back to earth, to be picked up by the mid-tempo drive the drums and bass provides bringing you back to the song’s course, then landing you effortlessly at the end. Carina pick you up once again Girl and the Ghost. I with found that Girl and the Ghost was vastly more optimistic and youthfully engaging structually, closer to fanciful, whimsical and boldly day dreamy, with a hint of pathos as it draws you in firing up the imagination. Mind you, the fans were focused and intrenched by this time. They had their spots and I was trying to find mine. Set Fire created a distant woeful feel combined with say, a quasi prophetic/psychedelic Siouxie and the Banshees aire to the song ala Kaleidescope. By this time I was able to push to the deepest part of the crowd where I wound up close to stage center. Weird Dream is oddly funky and arty in that David Bowie way, of say, Yassassin or Red Sails. The crowd was tightening as Carina and the band were finishing the set with The Secret Of Drowning. The Secret Of Drowning reminds me of being engulfed murky blue shades that are forced open with Carina’s vocal driving through opacity like shards and shafts of light pouring around the listeners ears, who were at this moment all were transfixed in those moments adding us a soft landing to the set. Soon the show came to its end. Carina’s fans at this sold out show responded with cheers and whistles as all from the stage filed quietly to the back room of The Satellite. And while the show was over there was plenty of time for everyone there to drop by, say hi and get a hug from Carina. I sauntered to the table in the back for the meet and greet. I wanted to say hi and wish Carina my best. We shared a few laughs but I was a wee bit on the tired side, so I didn’t linger. It was a riveting show with some of the most talented musician in Los Angeles. Carina was completely on her game for this show! I can say from all the shows I’ve witnessed I can tell she has a new command and presence I haven’t seen before. She leaves you overwhelmed and transfixed. Carina is no longer playing the Pop music game, but she’s decided to gift her fans with an experience. It’s a fortunate incident for any and all who have a chance to witness it. Carina will be touring throughout the summer. You’ll all have your chance to witness the phenomenon for yourselves.