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Curt Kiser’s voice and music exist comfortably in the liminal space that Cincinnati, OH occupies. Separated from Kentucky by the snaking bends of the Ohio River and owning a rich history of nascent musical trends that flowed out from here after being metabolized by the larger public. See: James BrownHank Williams “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” Bootsy CollinsL.A. ReidHi-Tek, the second non-Pacific Northwest band to be signed to Sub Pop (The Afghan Whigs!), the inventor of circuit bending and, yes, Brassland’s co-founders (Aaron and Bryce Dessner from The National).

The unhurried nature of the songs on the Blue EP owe much to this sense of Cincinnati being between many worlds. An incubator of sounds that never quite feel at home here. Though existing in this liminality, the “grande, neo-psychedelic” work by Kiser never reaches for a grand metaphor when the he could state it plainly. While Carriers music often feels carried away in this slipstream — Carriers’ guitar melodies are almost visible strands of air, bass and drums so lovingly present in the mix with their edges just barely sanded off; Kiser’s voice— one that he admits struggling to find comfort in — has a distinct, earthy post-Laurel Canyon lilt to it. It sounds perfectly at home singing plain truths on “Patience” (“it’s not always better on the other side”; “the chords I play bring the new day”) and “Heaven’s People.” Lyrics on Blue strike on universal themes: love, patience, faith, family with unvarnished sincerity. No cloak and dagger metaphors. No piss-takes. “Heaven’s People” is a touching rock ballad about family & faith. “Without You” is a chugging slow burner about love, life & sentimental feelings. Thad Kopek’s IDM-adjacent, shape-shifting remix of “Peace of Mine” shows just how versatile Carriers’ work can be. It all fits.

There is no better encapsulation of these themes than the video for “Patience.” Featuring striking footage of Curt, Curt’s family and familiar Cincinnati vistas and suburban streets that feel like family at this point, “Patience” is comprised of ephemeral moments that, if not captured, would go unappreciated forever. The sunset over Eden Park while the Curt let’s out a “whoop” during the barn-burning outro. Amen Dunes channeling the last 2 minutes of The Blue Nile’s “Downtown Lights”? Hell yeah.

For some the origin story of Carriers is canon. After the demise of Curt’s successful indie rock band Pomegranates, Curt meets Bryan Devendorf while working at an ultra-regional pizza chain at the zoo, meets John Curley working a similar service industry job. They play together and end up making the powerful double LP Now Is The Time For Loving Me, Yourself & Everyone Else together. Sharon Van EttenBand of Horses and The War on Drugs sing it’s praise. Shows with Big ThiefSam EvianChoir BoyDamien JuradoSimon Joyner follow.  And here we are, the Blue EP serving as an autumn introduction or re-introduction before a forthcoming release on NYC’s Brassland Records. Curt Kiser’s music career up to this point has been nothing but not patient.

For The National fans, Curt returned the favor contributing to several key tracks on The National’s newest albums Laugh Track – “Dreaming” & The First Two Pages of Frankenstein — “The Alcott” feat Taylor Swift, “Your Mind Is Not Your Friend” feat. Phoebe Bridgers and fan favorites “Eucalyptus” and “This Isn’t Helping”.
Dec 6
Heartless Bastards
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