Picked to Click 2013: #4. Carroll
#4. Carroll: 52 points
Thousands of bands form at colleges every year, but only a scant few are serious enough to grow up to be MGMT (Wesleyan) or Vampire Weekend (Columbia). But the indie-rock foursome Carroll, named after the street they lived on while studying at Macalester, made a solid first step with their debut EP, Needs. With their tightly constructed hooks, reflective synths, and Brian Hurlow's sensitive yet elusive missives, these five songs were a precocious introduction.
"For all the smart and talented people who go to that school, there are a lot of people who talk about the things they want to do and don't do them," says guitarist Max Kulicke, while relaxing on an outdoor patio with his bandmates. "What was so appealing about this project was it was three people who I knew had talent and skill, but who were also trying to actually go out and execute."
See Also: Picked to Click official site
Judging by the mariachi wafting gently in the background and the tacos and beers everywhere, Carroll must be having a band meeting. Every Tuesday evening, recent Mac grads Kulicke ('11), vocalist/keyboardist/guitarist Brian Hurlow, drummer Charlie Rudoy, and bassist Charles McClung (all '12) organize at El Paraiso on Nicollet to talk shop. "Shop" can be a pretty loose term, however. In less than an hour, tangents jump to Stevie Wonder, Lorde, Michael Jackson, Sharon Van Etten, Radiohead, Rush, Mac DeMarco, and Benjamin Britton, but usually back to Carroll.
At the moment, there's a split at the table regarding the virtues of pop songwriting. Hurlow says he never shied from it, but Kulicke admits a heavy blues past.
"Part of writing a really good pop song, an attribute of someone who does that -- let's take Carroll for example -- our EP is like shimmery pop compared to the darkness of what's coming out now," chatty Rudoy says in between laughs and sips of his beer. "But because at the end of the day we are guys who create pop music, we bring that element even when we're writing Deerhunter-inspired shoegazey mud. We can't help but craft it in the most deliberate way."
Nearly everything about these guys feels deliberate. They booked their first tour themselves and recently demoed new songs at a cabin in Wisconsin. About 10 tracks are in the works, and they're mum regarding the respected producer they're working with. "Definitely not Rick Rubin," says Kulicke. But they insist they just don't want to jinx it until it's set in stone.
What Carroll can't hold in is a palpable, four-headed excitement for their next deliberate move. Rudoy volunteers, "These songs are the sound of the four of us living together, eating together, traveling together, and crying together." They all laugh again, but nod in agreement.