Flashback Caruso, The Flashback Caruso Memorial Barbecue (2016)
Tracks: Pigeon Plague (4:04), I (0:48), Levitation Song (5:31), Black Magic (7:52), Going Home (4:59), II (1:25), Life Lie (4:35), III (1:13), Aqualung Boy (6:37), Darkest Hour (5:16), IIII (1:30), Raggazza Italiana (3:25), Øksa (2:22)
Every once in a while, a breath of fifty-year old air can seem remarkably fresh. And yes, I am speaking metaphorically. Norwegian band Flashback Caruso provide just such a breath in their first full album as a band. Ranging from a surf rock sound with occasional Beatles-esque vocal harmonies to a more contemporary sound, The Flashback Caruso Memorial Barbecue embraces several styles of rock to create a smooth sound.
While I am far from an expert in 1960s rock, I know enough to recognize it when it is used as an influence. One of the things I like about that era of music is how light and airy it can sometimes be. It wasn’t overburdened with production or overplaying. It sought to create catchy music that was actually good. Flashback Caruso have tapped into that formula fairly well in this album, while still managing to include the instrumental prowess we have become used to in the progressive rock genre. Additionally, that album art is about as hippie as you can get.
Made up of eight members whose names I won’t even attempt to reproduce for fear of butchering the spelling, this band has an interesting history. While Flashback Caruso has made three albums prior to this one, all were recorded before the full band was assembled.
Remarkably, their latest album, and first full band album, was recorded completely live in studio. I wish more bands did this, because the energy created playing live is impossible to reproduce any other way. The Flashback Caruso Memorial Barbecue sounds crystal clear, and the musicians all play beautifully.
The drums and bongos wonderfully set the soundscape throughout the record, with clean guitars and piano used effectively throughout. A myriad of other instruments scattered across the album add a distinct European flair to the music. Overall, the music manages to sound both sparse yet full. I credit this to a lack of distortion.
The Flashback Caruso Memorial Barbecue rewards the listener with each listen, for there is always something new to discover. Even I, who don’t often listen to this side of the prog genre, find myself enjoying new things with each additional listen – especially the drums and vocals. For those that like surf rock (albeit slowed down a bit) and other sounds of the 60s, there is a lot to appreciate here. For those who like a little more meat on their prog, Flashback Caruso maintain an excellent level of musicianship, complete with a variety of instruments and vocal melodies that fill the music without overwhelming the listener. This is certainly an album worth checking out.