Posts Tagged ‘Pass Like Pollen’

Cartalk, the project of Los Angeles songwriter and musician Chuck Moore, have been teasing out their debut album, the immaculate “Pass Like Pollen”, for the better part of a year. These singles got some light coverage but steadily built on each other. Every song added another view into their captivating sound. The nine tracks that form Pollen are each vulnerable, exuberant, and gripping in a way that makes their power known mere seconds after pressing play. 

One song dropped far in advance, the closing cut, “Sleep,” exemplifies this. Even before Moore’s voice comes in, the tendrils of guitar reaching out foreshadow the crash we all can feel is coming. The song has urgent, anxious energy, and Moore laments “I can’t write songs about you before I sleep / I won’t be so meticulous.” Its pace shakes you, and you feel the emotional resonance of every word viscerally, perhaps as strongly as Moore themselves. Songs like “Car Window” and “Noonday Devil” tap into relatable ideas like the comfort of sitting on floors, and sticking one’s head out of the car window. Neither act is subversive, but go against what’s expected nonetheless.

Pass Like Pollen in a lot of ways feels like the natural successor of Great Grandpa’s Four of Arrows. That is to say that above all else released this year in rock music, it’s the album that most confidently embraces country music’s influence and proudly wraps each note in that flag. Additionally, Moore’s vocals share a certain tone with Great Grandpa’s own Al Menne. The album’s opener, “Arroyo Tunnels” is reposed and eerie. The vast, developed lyricism on display here is a recurring theme throughout. It depicts a long drive and expresses a love for the world it travels and takes comfort in the long drive. This deep attention to and appreciation of detail is tangible in every note. 

“Wrestling” has some great riffs and a chorus that will surely get a crowd dancing once we can come back to live events again. “Driveway” is a heavy song about being in a relationship but feeling like it’s over already, basically a shell of what it once was, and it feels like you can see through the other person as if they were a ghost. “A Lesson” is a quick beautiful slow song about learning from every relationship and taking that forward as you move on in life. “Sleep” ends the record on a high note both lyrically and musically. While it might be over, the memories are there forever. I’m so excited for what the future holds for Cartalk as this is quite the debut.

“Pollen” shines as an airing of grievances and self-affirming mantras. Moore isn’t just writing songs with big choruses, though there are plenty of those, they’re building out an expanse for their guitar and band to fill. You can hear the space between each riff, and on a song like “Las Manos,” when the vocals and guitar act as a part of each other, the atmosphere they share becomes overwhelming. That song could be considered the highlight, though, with as many excellent songs as there are here, that title can be argued over. Feeling the guitar swing down as Moore sings “did my honesty scare you?” is exhilarating. 

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The multi-faceted nature of Cartalk’s melodies that remind you music is supposed to be fun.

All songs written by Cartalk
Cartalk is Chuck Moore

Recorded with Sarah Tudzin at Sunset Sound in Hollywood CA, The Snack Shack in Highland Park CA, and Champ’s House in Highland Park CA

The Band:

Sarah Tudzin – producer, engineer, programming, keyboards, additional guitar, additional vocals
Dean Kiner – bass; Andrew Keller – drums; Jacob Blizard – guitar
Kenny Becker – keyboards
Emily Elkin – cello
Noah Weinman – banjo, trumpet
Chuck Moore – composer, guitar, vocals

Released October 2nd, 2020