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2006-07-25 - 11:39 a.m.

There was a time when anything recorded on more than 4 tracks, or featuring any studio wizardry more schmancy than reverb sounded “overproduced” to me. It’s too bad, cuz it made me reject a lot of music out of hand…

But then I relaxed a bit, and eventually—-as many of us do—-had my Beach Boys/Pet Sounds awakening, and eventually became open to the idea that the recording studio could be used to artful effect, as a way to create beauty rather than manipulate mediocre songs into more radio-friendly ones.

So I’m careful these days not to dismiss things based on their production.

And yet the moment I picked up this CD by Carina Round, my hands felt scorched by the presence of...just too much—-too much Glen Balladry, too much drama in the vocals, too many record label/management people being thanked in the liner notes, too much icky overblown production weighing down what could be a set of nice songs.

It was kind of a sweet, nostalgic feeling to be all offended by the too-muchness of it. Even in this day and age of DIY internet bootstrappery, there is still such thing as old-fashioned major label excess.

But I’ll be curious to hear the second album, after she’s been dropped by a label that will inevitably be disappointed that she couldn’t match their bloated expectations.

Conversely, Bernard Fanning’s album Tea & Sympathy benefits from a more baroque and detailed production than music like his—-country/rootsy/Steve Earle-y—-usually gets. It’s surprisingly not overblown, despite being recorded at Peter Gabriel’s studio in Bath under the watchful eye of Tchad Blake. I’m enjoying this one a lot—-very melodic.

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