Following their first release, an LP entitled A Dive Right, Carbon Handshake’s new EP, Pulp Life, forgoes dramatically heightened themes of ‘life and death’ and ‘love and loss’ in favor of a smaller burden—the familiar crisis of youth in their twenties, attempting to reconcile the seemingly limitless potential of their future, while contending with the pressures of convention and expectations. Pulp Life presents a sentiment relatable to anyone who has made the inevitable, but inelegant transition to adulthood.
This emotional state of impasse and unease is reflected in music that marries pop-structures with a delivery rooted in more warped sensibilities. The thrust of the five tracks rely upon weaving together heavily manipulated sounds of live, electronic, and sampled percussion, a jangly sounding upright piano, plucky analog synthesizers, and vocals that are left room to breath and remain, in stark contrast to the instruments, relatively unaffected. This is a vision that is solely the band’s: DIY-ers at heart, the group produced, recorded and mixed Pulp Life.
Hailing from the suburbs of Minneapolis, the core unit of Carbon Handshake (Joe McNeill, Mack Scott, and Andy Dean) has been working together for over a decade. This is no small feat for any band, let alone one composed of members barely into their twenties. Carbon Handshake exists today as a five-piece: Eric Cafferty has filled in the rhythm section for several years and Clancy Brady acts as a welcome counterpoint to Joe’s vocals.
Rather than forming around common musical touchstones, the band formed around conflicting and disparate backgrounds and tastes. When they first convened, Joe was fixated on Weezer’s early 90’s catalog, Mack was strictly into metal, and Andy came from a classically trained background. Strictly speaking, this is not a band that picked the same five indie-rock records to emulate. Naturally, the member’s tastes have expanded over the years, yet they remain divergent. The songs that make up Pulp Life are a byproduct of embracing this conflict in interests and musical taste. Carbon Handshake are all the better for it.
“….Just damned groovy music..the virtuosos of intricately arranged modern rock pieces. Like Radiohead before OK Computer, but with a decidedly midwestern flavor.” - NewsCastic
“They write complex, intricately arranged songs which deserve dedicated listening.” -Leonard’s Lair Music Reviews
“It amazes me to find a band that has been working the craft for ten years and they are in their 20s…astonished at the songwriting, versatility and harmonies…”- KFAI’s Live From Studio Five