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KaiserCartel – Secret Transit
June 8, 2010

It’s hard to categorize KaiserCartel. I’m not really sure how to describe this band’s music, other than that it’s very good, but I’ll give it a try. KaiserCartel finds a good balance between a more minimalistic sound and an alternative harmonic sound. Regardless of the intensity and richness of the instrumentals (or vocals for that matter), these musicians are very good at creating a kind of soundscape in their songs. The songs often tend to have a touch of mystery or even melancholy. But the songs never really turn into sad songs.

Courtney Kaiser & Benjamin Cartel are both gifted musicians who work really well together. Their songwriting, their vocals and their attitudes complement each other. The songs where one of them takes the lead vocals are strong, very strong even, but the songs that could be considered duets are probably what I’d consider the strongest songs.

You can hear these musicians have the experience, the talent and the insight to know what to do with their music. Take tracks like Falling (more upbeat and maybe even danceable, would make a pretty fine radio single), Worn Out Nervous Condition (groovy, edgy), Wherever You Go (soft and almost minimalistic, yet very intense), Memphis (with a folky, yet playful melody) and the stunning album closer The Wait. These tracks show class, talent and most of all they show an accomplished band (or duo if you will).

“Secret Transit” is an album that may need a little time. I’ll be the first to admit that several of these songs can be a little challenging at first. But I would tell you to give it a chance. There’s an emotional layer in all the songs, and you really can connect to these songs on a deeper level. But musically it’s an album that challenges you, makes you think, I would even say that it makes you interact. If that’s done the right way, it makes the music on the album of a very high quality, and in the past few years I haven’t heard many bands do it as well as KaiserCartel did on “Secret Transit”.

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