Note: this is one of a series of “lost” posts originally slated to run in late 2011. We will be running these over the next few days as we reboot the site content.
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Carter Tanton is from Tulsa, but he’s not from Oklahoma. That geographic confusion suits his music, which refuses to be one thing at the exclusion of the other. He’s the former frontman of the noisy Baltimore-based indie-rock combo Tulsa and has subsequently done time as guitarist for the spacey Lower Dens and ethereal folkie Marissa Nadler. That’s a wide range of sounds and his debut solo album Freeclouds cuts a similarly broad swathe through jangly college rock, gauzy dreampop, and even a detour into synth-pop.
On “Horrorscope,” Tanton is charting noisy territory not far removed from the Jesus and Mary Chain or his recent tourmates The War on Drugs, with a little bit of Chapterhouse and early My Bloody Valentine thrown in for good measure. The pounding guitars are upfront in the mix, but every so often the background swells into a soaring orchestral backdrop, elevating the song from a cool noisepop romp into a mini-epic.
Lyrically, Tanton sounds as confused as a man consulting a horoscope usually is, turning to the stars for guidance to try to sort out the messy reality of relationships. “The future is still blind / I wish I had a neon sign to know this could be true,” he sings in a plaintive wail during the first verse, followed by a chorus of “My skull is full / I don’t think about my heart it’s true / It won’t beat for you.” He follows that by breaking into an incongruously country sounding guitar solo before the song returns to its previous roar.
It’s a perfect way to conjure up the uncertainty of not knowing exactly how another person fits into one’s life and shows Tanton to be a master of mixing words and music for a coherent whole. He may claim to not be using his head and heart simultaneously, but he’s lying. “Horrorscopes” is a very smart song with a huge heart beating at its core.
Click here to listen to Freeclouds on Spotify.