The Carbon Bubble – Carbon/Silicon (November 2009)

The following album is available for free on the artist’s website at http://www.carbonsiliconinc.com/mp3.aspx

In 2002, my hero, Joe Strummer, died of a congenital heart defect.  Though I didn’t hear about this back when I was a sixth grader getting ready for Christmas, the death would impact me when I discovered my now-favorite band The Clash in May of 2008.  I’m not sure why my copy of London Calling changed my life so much.  I certainly wasn’t at a rebellious stage in my life.  I was finally allowing myself to mature, actually at around that point.  Maybe that’s what it was.  The Clash was a band that grew and matured so quickly that its 1982 collapse was nearly inevitable.  The band’s combination of sarcastic honesty and sincere empathy made them not only relevant, but also likeable, which is more than one can say for most bands that even try to write about politics.  Joe Strummer was the honest half of The Clash.  The empathetic half was Mick Jones.

In 2002, Mick Jones formed a band with Generation X punk rock guitarist Tony James.  Together they formed the band Carbon/Silicon, whose main mission was awfully relevant for a bunch of old fogeys: They believed in “M.P.Free”, which combined a mockery of their British accents with the idea that combinations of ones and zeroes should be free.  In 2007, they released their first studio album, The Last Post.  With political rants (“Oil Well”), complaints about airport security (“The Magic Suitcase”), and songs that are as empathetic as Mick Jones classics “Lost In The Supermarket” and “Stay Free” (“The National Anthem”), The Last Post was the most politically relevant album dropped in a long time.

On November 14, Carbon/Silicon released their follow-up album, The Carbon Bubble, for free on their website. Where The Last Post begins with the repeated “Good morning, here’s the news, and all of it is good!  And the weather’s good!” The Carbon Bubble starts off far weaker.  “Everyday could be New Year’s Day”.  What?  I mean, that sentiment isn’t even original.  Mick Jones could even sing “Achy Breaky Heart” and make it sound important and heartfelt, so this isn’t a large problem to me, but I miss the sarcasm of The Last Post.   It seems that along the way, they’ve lost what keeps punk alive and thriving: relevance.

Notable songs include a hard rocker called “Make It Alright”, where Mick shreds on his guitar and repeats two separate lines ad absurdum: “I want you to make it alright” and “You’ve got to keep the devil at bay anyway you can”.  Mick Jones is the only person on the planet who could get away with that, do you hear me?  It remains my favorite song on the album, because what it does musically to two little lines is phenomenal.  On the ninth track, “Don’t Tazer Me Bro”, Mick Jones writes a silly number about how when someone decides to speak their opinion or what have you, they’ll just get shot down.  Kind of cliché, yeah, but Mick sounds like he’s being electrocuted while he’s singing it, which keeps it interesting.   And hey, it’s pretty funny.  For anyone who’s heard The Clash’s eponymous 1977 debut, this song equates to “Protex Blue”, a song about condom use that would make sense to anyone in 1977 England.  “Don’t Tazer Me Bro” is a near-throwaway to the same extent.  In three years, what the hell will that mean to people?

The ending sucks.  On The Last Post’s “Why Do Men Fight”, we have a mockery of The Divine Right Of Kings with the line “Now when I talked to God, I knew he’d understand”.  On this one we just have real stinker of a repeated line that goes on for nearly eight minutes.  “Believe or leave/Believe or leave/’Cause I know we will achieve/Our goal”.  I don’t need to tell you why that doesn’t work.

I’m not saying that The Carbon Bubble is a bad album.  It’s musically interesting enough to merit repeated listens, but after Jonesey’s 2007 comeback to relevance, it’s crushingly disappointing.  How disappointing, you ask?  Imagine how Paul McCartney fans must have felt whenever Wings released an album.

B

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Published in: on December 1, 2009 at 9:19 AM  Leave a Comment  

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