Chattanooga musician Chad Caroland (AKA Dirty Blonde, formerly of Family Airplane and Creek Bed Choir) finds inspiration in the shadowy spaces within the seams of his influences—a place where common musical threads are interwoven and frayed and quickly stitched back together. Blending a variable ambient palette with bits of indie rock, pop and R&B rhythms, he fashions a sound that's equal parts melodic illumination and synthetic construction. His songs build from within an artificial foundation but derive their pleasure and devastation from the beating heart that sits at the center of Caroland's dramatic impulses.
With the recent release of his debut record, "Chasing Skies," he doesn't merely present his numerous influences for our perusal—he breaks them down and repurposes them in new and uniquely curious ways. They're woven together in a latticework of melodies and vaguely shaped sounds. And as familiar as we might be with any portion of this homemade noise, there's still a streak of fascinating and irrevocably original thought and intent behind these songs. Crafting a spellbinding flow of synth pop theatrics, wobbly R&B inflections and subtle electronics, Caroland allows us to see the gears and mechanisms behind the clockwork façade of this record—and it's something to behold.
With tracks that touch on the connective tissue that exists between synthetic and live instrumentation, and the way we perceive both in terms of their relative emotionality, "Chasing Skies" is a testament to his ambition and aptitude for melding these disparate sounds in a coherent burst of electric creativity. There's something miraculous in the way that you can discover certain aspects of the music anew with each listen—these songs are built layer by layer to be explored, dissected and ultimately consumed by their own swirling masses of sound and turbulence. This immersive setup bodes well for Caroland's future in mining these particular sounds and rewards even a passing glance through the vast experiences and cinematic revelations that are littered throughout "Chasing Skies."
Joshua Pickard covers local and national music, film and other aspects of pop culture. You can contact him on Facebook, Twitter or by email. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.