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J Carmone

"Vol. 4"

Psych-tinged stompers with a DIY punk aesthetic

Reviewed July 9, 2024

Multi-instrumentalist J. Carmone infuses their high-energy power pop with just enough neo-psychedelic flourish to create a uniquely aggressive singalong sound. Fuzzy, phased guitars provide the foundation of these thoughtful tunes, with a sturdy standard rock rhythm section rounding out the backdrop for Carmone’s forward-in-the-mix vocals. Energy is the name of the game on Volume 4, a five-track ep that nicely showcases the scope of J. Carmone’s songwriting and playing.


“Riot” launches with a head-nodder of a riff, doubled by the vocals, and winds its way through parts until a harmonized “aah-aah” backing vocal carries the tune home. The second track, “Train,” is an immediate left turn, with chorus-drenched guitars progressing along a minor key that feels more latter-day Elephant 6 (think Beulah) than MC5. Other tracks delve into woozy psychedelia (“Apparition”), a trippy Built-to-Spill paean (“Summerdress”) and bleached-out power pop (“Push Comes to Shove).


J. Carmone wears their DIY patch sewn high on the sleeve of their denim jacket. The recordings are intentionally rough, with all the elements audible but not overworked, There’s no tape hiss, but the swarminess of the instruments hearkens back to the days of the cassette-based four track. Throughout, the vocals are granted primacy. That separation between vocals and instruments in the mix hammers home the DIY grit of these recordings, but so does the vocal approach. J Carmone’s snarky, punk-nasal delivery (think NOFX) provides the adrenaline that carries the more muscular songs along, but during the more tender moments can feel a tad out of place.


For most projects that lean into DIY production, I’m curious how the songs would flourish with more professional techniques and a more traditional mix working in their favor. With Volume 4, J. Carmone sidesteps that question by establishing an intentional sound and pushing it in interesting and surprising directions, at once setting its own standard and exceeding it in the same offering. 

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