“Lake of Silver Bells” – Carbon Leaf

It might be time for yet another Fingertips mini-lecture on why music doesn’t have to be “new” or “groundbreaking” to be good. Or, it might not be. Lectures get tiresome, mini or otherwise. Although, I must say, not nearly as tiresome as listening to indie rock snobs dis perfectly good music as “formulaic” just because they don’t like it. For god’s sake, you don’t have to like everything. But you also don’t have to insist that all the music you don’t like is therefore “bad,” and that the most obvious way music is “bad” is if it doesn’t somehow do something “new.” Folk music has lasted for centuries with its impact unabated, and none of that ever sounded “new” or “groundbreaking.”

Rats. That was a mini-lecture, wasn’t it? Time to get to Carbon Leaf, and the really appealing (but, nope, not groundbreaking) “Lake of Silver Bells.” Something of a novella at a time when most indie pop songs are short stories at best, the song is driven by a shimmering, U2-inspired guitar line (first kicking in around 0:51) but really takes hold thanks to its two complementary hooks: the first being that recurring moment in the second half of the verse when smoky-voiced singer Barry Privett soars to falsetto; the second being the chorus, which is not heard until 1:48, and is well worth the wait: swooping and indelibly melodic, with an intriguing air of Celtic rock about it (anyone remember the band Horslips? anyone at all?), and ringing with such muscular movement that it feels less like a chorus than a song within a song. This gets better and better as you listen again and again.

So yes, give me “deep” over “new” any day, and this kind of structural and textural depth is largely beyond the reach of musicians who are still getting to know each other. The Richmond, Virgina-based Carbon Leaf, on the other hand, has been around since 1992. Imagine that. “Lake of Silver Bells” is from the band’s seventh studio album Nothing Rhymes With Woman, released in mid-May on Vanguard Records.




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