Acclaimed for his hot-wire live performances, Carey has been hailed as a “talented musician with a lot of energy and an established following” (MTV Online), to a “star front man (with) solid material,” (Music Connection). Given such effusive notices, it should come as no surprise that Carey’s engrossing release on Inspiration Factory/High Wire Music/Fontana (Universal’s Independent Arm), showcases his unique take on contemporary pop-rock song craft. Produced by Marshall Altman, (Marc Broussard, Matt Nathanson, Brooke Fraser), recorded by Niko Bolas (Neil Young, Rachael Yamagata, Warren Zevon), and mixed by Brian Malouf (O.A.R., Natasha Bedingfield, Pearl Jam) Watching Waiting stands out like an oasis of emotionalism in a cynical rock ‘n’ roll wasteland.
Carey’s songs would be impressive enough if they were simply wonderfully crafted, radio-ready gems. But there’s an actual story behind Watching Waiting’s pop-inflected melodies, bedrock rhythms and introspective lyrics. Back in 2004, Carey found himself at a crossroads. Born and raised in the Chicago area, he had moved to Los Angeles in the late ‘90s to study music at the prestigious University of Southern California. Before long, he was earning his rock ‘n’ roll keep as front man for the improvisational LA band, Telepathy. Though Carey’s charismatic stage presence helped transform Telepathy into one of southern California’s most successful club acts, the singer-guitarist found himself beset by feelings of restlessness, and returned to Chicago with new direction. “It was the live thing,” Carey recalls with a laugh, referring to Mid-West’s fanatical crowds. “I missed playing shows for audiences who really want to grow with their artists.”
Though Watching Waiting is largely shaped by Carey’s recent experiences, the album’s themes of restlessness, displacement, homecoming and triumph are universally resonant. “This record attempts to translate the emotion of longing into sound. That’s why the title track describes the process of ‘want’, bordering on obsession. There was a really nice incubation period for these songs to come to life. I was able to able to play them in front of audiences, and test their legs before they were committed to disk.” The writing itself was also a two-year process, which included a stint with “The Challenge”, a cyberspace song-writing parlor game that found Todd trading songs with the likes of Jason Mraz, Bob Schneider and Ari Hest.
For Carey, Watching Waiting is the most recent chapter in an already storied career. The singer’s independently produced 2005 debut solo album, “Revolving World,” effectively showcased Carey’s eclectic songs, wide-ranging guitar skills and performing intensity. Sold through all major on-line distributors, Awarestore, iTunes and select retail outlets, “Revolving World” found Carey working alongside engineer Paul DuGre (Tracy Chapman, Mike Gordon, Leo Kottke, Los Lobos), and producer Jim Tullio (Los Lonely Boys, The Band, Staple Singers).
Touring heavily in support of the album, Carey performed over 100 shows in clubs, festivals and college campuses, opening for the aristocratic likes of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Jackson Browne, The Black Crowes, Trey Anastasio and Phil Lesh, Jason Mraz, Marc Broussard, G. Love & Special Sauce and more. Whether fronting his own hard-hitting touring band, or fashioning spontaneous songs from sampled rhythms and other sonic textures during select solo performances, Carey consistently earned new fans with his winning on-stage style.
Towards their goal of capturing that performing magic in the studio, Carey and producer Marshall Altman assembled and recorded with a crackerjack supporting band for Watching Waiting, including drummer Aaron Sterling (Liz Phair, Natasha Bedingfield, Ben Taylor), bassist Jonathan Ahrens (Matt Redman, Josh Kelley) and keyboardist Ben West. Additional guitar textures were supplied by guitarist Michael Chaves (Sarah McLachlan, John Mayer, Rufus Wainwright). Confident with the spirit of the tracks, Carey and Altman sequestered themselves in various studios around L.A, where Carey laid down the additional guitars and vocals that shape the album. “I spent a lot of time trying to give the tracks a unique flavor by adding the atmospheric and lead guitar tones that I identify with on a personal level. Beyond the superb playing of the band, I wanted the guitars and vocals to avoid some of the singer/songwriter clichés while not heading too far astray from the genre.” You can almost see Carey’s wink to the listener in the track “King of Cliché.” As he sings “I’m the king of cliché’/all my dreams are this way,” he separates himself from his contemporaries with soul grooves and funky leads that segue into chimey acoustic guitars over pounding drums.
“I couldn’t be happier with this record,” Carey says with exuberance akin to a child in a sandbox. “There was a coherence in the writing, in the demos, the rehearsals, the performances, and the production. They all came together. But the roots of it really comes from getting up in front of an audience who really want to be moved.”
Edited by ToddCarey on 31 Jan 2007, 16:30
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