Review: Ocean Carolina: Half in the Shadows EP

The De Mello Rating: 5-Stars

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Evoking strong emotion, beautiful tonality and striking imagery Ocean Carolina has followed up their gorgeous debut album with a breathtaking EP. Reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska, Half in the Shadows is a stark contrast to a debut album that took the alt. country world by storm. With just Michael Simone, a harmonica, a guitar and reverberating vocals that reach deep into your soul, Half in the Shadows is Simone at his most vulnerable.

His process was, according to Simone, “come home, write a song and immediately record it only using two microphones. Limit yourself to two takes, no editing, no pro tools or computer trickery. Just choose the better of the two tries you have to offer…Like a love letter or that drunken text you might beat yourself up over for days to come. It all comes down to one thing: immediacy. Half in the Shadows is the culmination of this process.”

This will undoubtedly end up on my best EPs of 2013, it’s that good. There’s an outlaw country aspect to it, but also that haunting nothingness that Springsteen gave us with Nebraska. The songs don’t meander; they don’t feel like anything’s left out either. Much like Ryan Adams’ Love is Hell albums there’s a feeling of sadness that emits through the speaker/headphones and there is no recovery from that sadness.

My only complaint with Ocean Carolina is their online presence seems to be almost solely on Facebook and an updated Tumblr page. This band needs to get more videos out there, even if it’s just Simone playing in a room with a microphone and a camera. An inundation of every possible venue is something that needs to happen with this band. They’re phenomenal, but how would you know unless you read this blog and/or saw them on FB. The inability to use the free marketing tools that are available in this Digital Age is inexcusable. Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Google + (Yeah I know nobody but Google employees are on this, but they make up like 1% of the population so it’s something), YouTube, shit even Myspace is making a minor comeback. 

“Letting Go” is a song that sounds like a man almost pleading to make it work.

“Sometimes letting go doesn’t have to be the answer.

Sometimes let it go

I would be there if you asked me to

Oh it’s true

I would be there until your skies turned blue

I would be there if you asked me to.”

The beauty in those lines, the emotion evoked, the desperateness in a Simone’s voice is enough to bring one to tears. There is no anger, nothing but reassurance and sadness. This is an EP that takes cynicism out of music. I’m a cynic when it comes to emotion in music as oftentimes being inauthentic, but Simone is so convincing that he makes you feel the pain in which he sings about. This is an absolute beautiful EP, unless your issues with depression are such that listening would cause you even more sadness, because this isn’t a happy effort and that’s what makes it even better.  

Check out Ocean Carolina’s Facebook page for more information about tours, new music and anything else. 

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