Carta is an ambient indie band from San Fransisco. It’s hard to put them in any particular genre other than to say that they have a very airy, ambient sound. The band formed in 2002 as a bedroom tape project for Kyle Monday and Jason Perez. They did stuff with a lot of guitar loops and electronics. No vocals and no drums in the beginning. I haven’t heard any of the early Carta stuff, but that quick description is a little bit like the description of lovesliescrushing.
After a bunch of people filtered in and out of the band, they finally released their first album —The Glass Bottom Boat— in 2007, then another —An Index of Birds— in 2010.
I had never heard of Carta until I got started paying attention to the upstart Texas-based label Saint Marie Records. Their “thing” is shoegaze and dream pop, but they also have a good deal of focus on electronic music, and they’ve even got a couple of folky artists on the roster. Anyway, Carta recently signed to the label, and they’re set to release their third album —The Faults Follow— on August 20 via Saint Marie.
By now, Carta is more of a proper band with some permanent members. One of the by-products of this is that there’s a lot of focus on vocals. Whereas they used to be exclusively instrumental, most of the songs on the new record have vocals. Many of them, like tonight’s, have coed vocals and some nifty harmonies.
Tonight’s song is one of the standout tracks on the album, and it actually was released in the autumn of 2011 as a b-side to the “The Faults Follow” single via U-dot Music.
“The Iowa Fight Song”by Carta
There’s a lot that I love. The coed vocals. The fragile and sparse piano. The brushed drums. The whine of heavy radio interference. The stringed orchestral instruments. The faint sound of an old typewriter clacking away. I’m a big sucker for that. There’s a Belle and Sebastian song with a typewriter used as an instrument. When I used to love Belle and Sebastian, I loved that song, but I don’t even remember what song it is anymore, and I’m too lazy to track it down. Maybe it Stuart David’s side project, Looper. I can’t even remember. Anyway, whatever it was, I remember loving the song simply because of the typewriter. Belle and Sebastian, by the way, suffered a bit when Stuart David left the band and they suffered immensely when Isobel Campbell left the band. I lost interest in them about that time, and I know that a lot of other people did too.
There’s a lot else that I like about tonight’s song, but the typewriter certainly helps it along. For the record, there’s one more song –“Header”– on the new record which features a typewriter clacking away.
I have to admit that the first time I heard this song, I was sort of expecting it to build to a huge crescendo. While there is one bit where it hints at building in tempo and volume, it never does. And I kind of prefer it this way.
The Faults Follow will be released on August 20, and you can pre-order your own vinyl or CD copy from the Saint Marie web store here. I highly recommend it.