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Martin Carpenter – Sheepish

I have the good fortune of being able to listen to the albums I review in a public forum. I can closely monitor my test subjects without them realizing that I am watching for a reaction to the music coming over the speakers. Is this because I am a sycophant who is incapable of forming an opinion of his own? Probably, but it also gives me the opportunity to see if other people share a similar reaction to my own. A best-case scenario is one where several people approach me to ask for the name of the band and album. A worst-case is when people throw sidelong glances at me in askance. Most bands fall somewhere in between. It is this middle ground where Martin Carpenter finds himself with his new album Sheepish.


Carpenter hales from a town in Northwest Missouri and Sheepish is his solo debut. While he was raised on country music, pop is what really drives him. He has enlisted the help of Mitch Fecht (bass, guitar) on his quest to create a truly pop album, but it is this bland brand of music that’s been driving me crazy for the last several months. Listening to Carpenter immediately reminded of Tim Lee (see my previous review in the archives), who if memory serves, shares the same label. Carpenter’s pop has a much less country feel to it compared to Lee, but it’s just more of the same that I hear from half of the bands I listen to today. I mean shit, “Wrong Audience” had a banjo in it and even that failed to make it interesting (I love a good banjo pickin’).

The most reaction I got from my lab rats was a foot that tapped in time to “I Am Low.” Simple beats, simple guitar hooks, and uncomplicated lyrics were apparently the watchword for “Sheepish.” Okay fine, but what else can you do? I’m terribly bitter and jaded, but I hunger for something good and unique to grab a hold of and laud. The last song, “Oh Jane!,” departed somewhat from the rest of the album, taking a much more new wave, synthesized approach to pop. “I Am Low” is, I feel, is the strongest song, combining rhythm guitar with simple notes from the lead while doubling Carpenter’s voice to provide a harmony, as well as a background chorus of “aaaahs.” You may just tap your toes as well, although it still falls short from saving Sheepish from being swallowed in a sea of mediocrity.


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