The math rock album Carl by Ann Arbor-based band Eight Carl is a triumph of originality and musical abandon. Eight Carl is comprised of rising SMTD seniors and drummer-guitarist duo Geoff Brown and Joey Fortino. Listeners can indulge in manic tantrums at certain points in tracks like “Torgo Kills” and then, without any sort of hesitation, be thrust into a mellow and flirtatious dance in “Torgo Lives” as well as the favorite of both the band and me, “Big Pile O’ Pig Bile.”
To be completely honest, even within these individual songs, there are so many different jumps between moods that, out of the entire album, I was most impressed by how I never could predict when the music style was going to change. It was engaging in the most aggressive sense. If your jam is easy listening, or perhaps ABBA-centric, this album is not for you. I, however, was completely focused on the music the entire 32 minute runtime, which I find rare amid today’s pop music mania.
Math rock, one of Eight Carl’s many influences and forays, is an indie rock medium that came into prominence in the 1980s. It lends to greater experimentation and variety within the music. As previously mentioned, the album has massive range whereas style is concerned. There were times that reminded a fellow listener of the delicate beginning to Vampire Weekend’s “Sunflower,” and others that truly gave me mid-February, dirge of winter, midterm exam anxiety. After listening to the album twice, I couldn’t tell if Eight Carl was a very brave college band, or on track to be the most influential musicians of our generation.
Needless to say, I could not wait to meet these boys. Brown and Fortino are rising seniors, majoring in Performing Arts Technology. They met freshman year and bonded over music in Brown’s Bursley dorm — 6 Douglas to be exact. They mentioned math rock band Hella as a major influence.
When I asked about their music-making process, Fortino said, “You can’t appreciate the lovey-dovey good stuff without understanding and at least recognizing the chaos and nastiness. They sort of need each other.”
They are bursting with energy, but do not avoid slow downs in their music, although they seem to come out of nowhere because the songs rarely build or tell a story.
When I asked where they could next be experienced, they coyly said that most of their shows are in houses that don’t really account for “randos,” so basically, you’ve got to know someone in order to get the address.
Regardless, Eight Carl stretched boundaries where the typical college band is concerned. I was impressed by their complete commitment to their own style of music with a fearless abandon that I have never heard before in a band so green and casual about the entire process.