My memory of Dubuque is fuzzy. Did I see Hot Carl, or were they just around when people were falling out of trees in inflated inner tubes, before the paint fire, before I almost got in a fight with a guy who kept on pushing me to say, “Fred Durst is a genius”? I understand I was drunk for the better part of the week, and that may help explain why I didn’t realize how great they were. Maybe it’s I’m not so up on their name. Dunno. Hot Carl’s got the hard, tightly structured but expansive melody of Tiltwheel (plus that “it sounds happy but it’s not” quality), hitched onto guitar parts that Jughead of Screeching Weasel would approve of. (Plus the double lyrical meaning in SW. “I’m Doing Fine” is a song about losing it. And “Sympathy” is followed by the parenthetical “(or lack thereof)”) But it’s better than just that, much like Rivethead’s Thundercat music machine is better than the sum of their parts. The songs punch and leave marks of their own and the all the bands I referred them to before are just whizzing-by signposts. I say write them, send a couple of bucks, and have them burn you a copy. This one caught me by surprise.
–todd (Hot Carl, 140 Loras Blvd. #4, Dubuque, IA 52001)