Carbon Tigers – The Wars at Home

written by: November 19, 2013
Cover-art-for-The-Wars-at-Home-by-Carbon-Tigers Release Date: November 19, 2013


Carbon Tigers is back on top of things with its self-released third EP, The Wars at Home. The Chicago-based indie rock group has toned down just a bit from its previous releases, crafting a more mellow quintet of songs this go-’round.

The group went for a more direct approach on this EP, making more widely-accessible music that will appeal to a new demographic of fans. The songs are less disorderly and experimental, for the most part, but still have the same thrilling impact as debut EP The Burrows and home-recorded The Dover Sessions, Vol. I: What I Say & What I Mean.

It feels as though Carbon Tigers gave some time to progress and grow in a different direction before releasing new material, just as it has in the past. All three of its releases can be seen as distinct eras of the band that show its continual progress and development.

The Wars at Home showcases excellent songwriting and musicianship, while still mastering mainstream appeal.

This set of songs ranges from calm and beautiful, to poppy and uplifting, to powerful and full of turmoil, giving listeners access to a slew of varying genres.

The EP takes you on an interesting trip from start to end, combining pop and progressive rock elements to create an engaging work of art. “Everybody Else” sweetly welcomes listeners into the world Carbon Tigers cultivates with pretty guitars and the opening lyrics, “On the first day, all of this got started/got the last name of my father’s father.” This reference to birth is a fitting way to bring the listener in on the first track, not to mention how surreal and jovial the music is.

The next song is the title track, which does a good job of capturing the feeling of the album as a whole. While the band has gone in a more mainstream direction since its start, this does not affect its musical prowess or lead singer/guitarist Chris Wienke’s incredible vocals.

Both of these are the driving force behind the album, and what makes it great in the end. One of the best examples comes in the last minute and a half of “The Wars at Home,” with a stellar breakdown. It’s one of the catchiest, moments of the record, without sacrificing skill.

Carbon Tigers starts off on a good note with the next track, as well. A lone guitar layered with Wienke’s quivering voice is joined by the rest of the band, then segues into the oddly-timed chorus. The use of strange timing is one indicator of the band’s more alternative past, as is the excellent musicianship provided by Wienke, Nick Cudone on guitar, Aaron Sweatt on bass, and Daren Williams (of Company of Thieves) on drums. The song features killer guitar and bass solos, great drums, and impressive vocals.

“Queen” is another hint at the group’s past work, donning a more experimental, spacey sound.

The entire track has a droning, eerie guitar behind it, adding to the depth of the composition. The highlight of this song is definitely the jittery breakdown and epic guitar solo toward the end. “Queen” acts as a good transition between the softer first half and heavier last half of the EP.

Ending on “The Harvest,” a powerful, unexpected exclamation point to the predominantly relaxed EP, The Wars at Home closes on a heavy instrumental jam. This song will come as a surprise given the preceding tracklist, but somehow feels like a fitting end.

The Wars at Home is easily one of the best EPs this year. The only thing wrong with it is that it has to end so soon. Hopefully before too long, the band will release its first full-length, because thus far it’s released nothing but perfect music.

Carbon Tigers – The Wars at Home tracklisting:

  1. “Everybody Else”
  2. “The Wars at Home”
  3. “Ishmael”
  4. “Queen”
  5. “The Harvest”