Carney Art: Carney, May 15 at the Redstone Room Print
Music - Feature Stories
Wednesday, 14 May 2008 02:19

Reeve CarneyThe first sound on the EP Nothing Without You has the full-throated force of Robert Plant, and it leaves a strong impression.

That voice belongs to the 25-year-old singer and songwriter for the Los Angeles-based quartet Carney, which will be performing at the Redstone Room on Thursday. Reeve Carney played the lead's younger self in 1999's film adaptation of Snow Falling on Cedars. He was a member of Jonny Lang's touring band. Two years ago - the year that Carney was signed to Interscope - L.A. Weekly's Stepahnie Lysaght wrote: "I would have paid $5 to watch Reeve Carney open a can of soup. The guy is that gorgeous." And he openly adores all things Disney.

So when you learn that Carney has global ambitions, keep those things in mind. And then listen to the arresting opening moments of Nothing Without You. There are certainly no guarantees in the music business, but Carney seems poised for big things.

I don't say that independent of the music. The EP is a strong opening volley, big on rock-star confidence and playfully omnivorous songwriting, arrangement, and performance. It's catchy without being hackneyed, surprising without being alienating, and muscular and sensitive in equal measure.

It covers a lot of terrain in 14 minutes, and it's impossible to discern what the shape, tone, and color of the band's body of work will be. At the ends there's the arena-rock stomp of Led Zeppelin and the White Stripes with a charismatic vocal androgyny and fierce, bluesy guitars. In the middle there are light tastes of the Beatles and Beach Boys, sweetly sung. "There She Goes" has instrumental punctuations, keyboard textures, and swells of strings reminiscent of Jon Brion, and it's followed in "Testify" by a dramatic, wailing break. Each track is good to excellent.

Carney"I'm hoping to trick people into buying all the tracks" on the band's forthcoming album, Carney joked in an interview last week. "‘I bought the whole album; I just bought them all as singles.'"

As for an overarching description of the band, Carney said he hopes the music is difficult to pigeonhole. "My goal is to try not to repeat myself," he said.

Zane Carney, Reeve's younger brother and the band's guitarist, said the in-progress full-length - tentatively slated for a September release - should be more coherent than the EP, and he compared it to a sine wave. (He claims to be a math guy.) "The EP has a few points on that curve," he said, "and I think the album's going to slope it out, fill it out and make it smoother."

Zane, whose first love is jazz, said his brother's songs give the band opportunities to improvise. "If people come to our concerts - five shows in five different cities - they'd see a different show every night," he said. "I'm not sure they'd all be good ... ."

Touring with - and opening for - Lang taught Reeve Carney what audiences respond to, which plays into what Carney hopes to accomplish. "I'm not one of those people who's just out to make myself happy," he said. "I want people to enjoy the music."

And his aspirations also led him to sign with a major label. While independent artists these days can often do better for themselves than emerging acts signed by big corporations, they'll never have the reach or marketing muscle of a major. "We want to be a worldwide band," he said.

Zane added: "We just want to tour forever."

 

Carney will perform on Thursday, May 15, at the Redstone Room in downtown Davenport. Philadelphia's The Brakes and the Quad Cities' The Roadless are also on the bill. The show starts at 8:30 p.m., and tickets are $7.

 

For more information on Carney, visit (http://www.myspace.com/carneytheband).