The job of a publicist is a difficult one. Your job is to literally garner publicity for not just one, but a group of clients. Now, that’s easy if say you’re representing Mumford and Sons, The Avett Brothers or Justin Bieber. Easy in that you can say no very often and are inundated with requests for your particular band. It’s not as easy if your artist(s) are either notorious or lesser known. Then the publicist has to go to the blogs. That’s where it starts; the small sites and the blogs. Rolling Stone isn’t going to automatically jump on board without some semblance of a lengthy gestation period in the blogosphere.
So often times I get requests to listen to a new album and sometimes they’re good, sometimes they’re not to my liking, but rarely are they amazing. Making music is hard and making great, original music is even harder. The very early albums in a bands development can be used as learning experiences and finding your voice. Yet, I was presented an album by a publicist the other day of a band I’d never heard of. I mean that’s usually the case, and sometimes you can look at the name of a band and realize you’re going to hate them. Names are so important; you don’t want a fan to be embarrassed to say your band’s name when they tell your friends how good your band is.
So when I received the debut release from Ocean Carolina I had high hopes. Right off the bat they passed the name test. I’m not embarrassed to say check out Ocean Carolina to my friends, like I would be if I said, ”Hey check out this new Taylor Dayne record.” Or “Gee whiz, I really think this Toad the Wet Sprocket band is gonna make it.” First of all that second name is disgusting. Second no one should ever have to say Taylor Dayne again. It should be like saying Beetlejuice three times. Anyway, I digress, Ocean Carolina’s debut album, All the Way Home, is country, but not like Tim McGraw country or Randy “I chase cops naked” Travis country. We have to make that distinction now, because somewhere around 1978 country devolved into a shitstorm of pickup trucks, flag waving and women. It’s like when rap became all about bling.
All the Way Home is country like Ryan Adams was country when he put out Jacksonville City Nights with the Cardinals. It’s like country that goes back to the roots of it all. It’s like steel guitars, love, heartache and a twang. It’s an exercise in the way to make a debut album. What way is that you say? Remarkable, memorable and succinct. There are ten songs that leave you wanting more. Ten perfectly encapsulated little stories with only one barely straying over the five minute mark. It’s not quite perfect as there is a song, “Women and Wine” that straddles the line of modern country, but for the most part this is a fantastic debut from this band that two days ago I had never heard of and now after only ten songs I wish they had put out twenty.
That’s the mark of a good band. Never give the audience everything they want. If they want twenty songs give them ten, they’ll come back later for the other ten. By leaving your audience wanting more, you ensure that they will in fact come back for more. Being good is mostly subjective, except when it isn’t. This is one of those times. When you create something so bold, such an effective country album then you are making a statement that your band does not care what shitty country artists are doing you’re staying true to the roots of what made country music into this monolithic beast. You are saying that we believe in our talent and abilities so much that we’re willing to say forget the established mores (that’s pronounced morays for my fans in the South – not counting you Louisiana) we’re doing what we want. That is greatness and that is why you should listen. Oh and it’s fucking brilliant.
Best Song: Don’t Break Your Promise – A song that starts off sounding like an Edward Sharpe song, but really come into its own with a classic country reverb that really emotes what the title says.