The Carousers are a punk band hailing from Long Branch, NJ.  Right away I like the album cover.  It is basically what every single page of every single notebook of mine looked like in grade school and in high school.  And college.  And around my office.  Especially eyes and jack o’lanterns.  I draw eyes ALL THE TIME.  So yeah…great cover.

Normally if I find a punk band I’m like, “Okay a punk band.  Yay.”  If I find a punk band with an EP I’m like, “Okay a punk band.  Yay.  With an EP.  So it’s going to be about, what, three minutes?  Total?”

And then…there was the name.  It was under additional musicians.  On the backing vocals and piano.  Johnny Ott.  The Johnny Ott.  THE JOHNNY OTT IS ON THIS EP!?!?!?

NOW…if you are reading this and saying, “Okay, so?  Who the hell is Johnny Ott and why should I care?” it could be a fair thing to ask if you are from like…Utah.  I know that people live in Utah or North Dakota but I have zero clue what kind of music they listen to.  But here in Jersey?  Johnny Ott does vocals and guitars for a little band called The Cryptkeeper Five.  At this point in their career they are one of the best bands in New Jersey.  They are probably one of the best bands in the nation but because you people in Utah and South Dakota or whatever don’t know who The Cryptkeeper Five are ….IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT THEY AREN’T NATIONAL!  Seriously – go find CK5.  Go listen to their new album The Stronghold.  Go listen to MadDog 20/20 No. 1. If your mind isn’t blown you have no soul.

But this review isn’t about CK5 it is about The Carousers new EP.  The thing is the second I see Ott’s name I became immediately interested.  It goes from “Okay I’ll give it a listen” to “Guess I’ll press play right now.”  Looking at the group’s Bandcamp I also see the album was recorded right around the corner from me.  So now I’m pissed at the group because I really like this EP and I could have, I dunno, been in the background clapping.  What?  People clap on albums all the time!  AND THEY GET CREDIT!  I totally could have played on this kickass EP with my kickass clapping skills.

The Carousers are a trio made up of Joey Affatato, Cassidy Crosby, and Andy Jackle.  Their sound is crisp.  Vocals are way tight.  Each song is pretty amazing.  I really don’t have a standout track.  When every song kicks ass and you only have five tracks I find it hard to say that one song is better than the next.

This being a punk EP I’m not kidding about the length.  I think all together the EP probably comes in around elevenish minutes.  It’s punk.  You get in.  You thrash and do your shit.  You get out.  The Carousers do this effortlessly.

You can hear the whole EP on Bandcamp before snagging the album (as you should) but it looks like the whole EP is also over on YouTube.  Either way you can hear the entire album and enjoy.  As I don’t have a standout track and this EP is just five songs I guess I’ll just break down my thoughts on each song.

  1. She’s the Devil:  A great way to kick off the album.  This is your introduction to The Carousers and right away I start digging Joey’s voice.  It’s clear but feels like it could go Dicky Barrett at any moment.  Love the chorus.
  2. Strangers:  The start of this song kinda reminds me of Avril Lavigne’s Sk8r Boy.  I don’t mean that as an insult in any way.  If you going to take any of that teen crap from the early 00’s at least that song was passable.  Strangers moves away from that really quickly and just takes off.  It made me want to mosh but as I was by myself in my mancave I just threw myself against the wall for 2 minutes until my shoulder hurt.
  3. Cracked Pot: I may take back my “I have no favorite song on this EP” thing when it comes to Cracked Pot.  It’s a lower energy song which actually makes it stand out a bit more.  Comparable to some of the better songs from Green Day, The Descendents, and Honah Lee.
  4. Another World:  This song perks the album right back up.  Quick and fearless.  Cassidy’s voice sticks out during the chorus which made me excited.  This song comes in around 1 minute 45 seconds.  Short but sweet.  I’m going to go back to probably having no favorite song on the EP because this song is way awesome.  It’s not that I’m indecisive.  I just really like the album.
  5. Halloween Night:  The only thing that puzzles me about this track is the song title.  This song is slightly slower as well which I really dig.  I’m not a musician so I’m not really sure how to explain what I love about this track.  Guitarists play chords and they sing in certain keys.  I like in this song how the chords shift and the vocal key shifts in the middle.  I don’t know if that makes any fucking sense other than to me.  So if that doesn’t make sense what I’ll say is the song shifts musically midway through and I liked that shift.

If I had any sort of complaint……….and I really don’t……’s that this trio has a kickass female bassist who also sings backing vocals.  I’m a huge fan of mixed gender bands.  I don’t understand why more bands aren’t.  Musical talent has nothing to do with gender so if you kick ass you just kick ass.  Vocal-wise I think it can add volumes.  Guy sings it usually sounds like a guy.  Girl sings it usually sounds like a girl.  Put them together on an album and you can come up with a great sound.  Affatato is the group’s vocalist so you always have Joey front and center.  I would have loved to hear Cassidy’s backup vocals turned up a bit more throughout the EP.  Or at least sing a bit more throughout.  This is not a knock on the band, the producer, nobody.  This is just me with my personal choice.  It does not at all affect the consistency or the professionalism of this album.  Because this album kicks fucking ass.

Overall I thought this album was fantastic.   I can’t wait to get over to Asbury Park or Mill Hill to see The Carousers play.  They certainly are a welcome addition to a burgeoning Jersey music scene that seems to get better with each passing month.  Head over to Bandcamp (Or Spotify.  Or YouTube.) to give this EP a listen.  If you like it like I did then pick it up and support the band.  Personally I can’t wait to see what The Carousers do next.



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