William Michael John Carroll goes by the moniker Strong Struggling State. He recorded, produced, mixed and mastered I Heard You Were On Vacation. He’s one of those guys who just has way too much talent. He started recording music in middle school and in 2010 went to the Los Angeles Recording School for Record Engineering and started working at Ocean Way Recording Studios in Hollywood but then he quit. He continued writing and recording his own compositions. Get this – he claims to have made over 1200 compositions since 2003, and 12 albums of songs since 2007 as well as making one song a day throughout 2007-2008. I Heard You Were On Vacation is a collection of songs that he describes as if “Radiohead played in the 60's, was beamed up by multiple UFOs, sent to the future, and reincarnated as the Beach Boys.” Well, after listening I don't really see the Radiohead comparison. Instead I would replace it with an artist like Panda Bear. Carroll does a great job of crossing genres like doo-wop, surf rock with an experimental edge. These songs are pretty fantastic.
They combine soaring Beach Boys type harmonies with often non-standard timing and unique song structure. He typically doesn't stick to verse- chorus type songs instead you get songs that freely dance around. It sounds natural and a lot of it doesn't feel like it is paying homage to the 60’s but instead might have been recorded in the 50’s or 60’s. I felt like I was listening to an Animal's record. It wasn't just his delivery but also the recording as well. Above all else these songs feel careless, free and seem as if Carroll had a blast making them.
Take for instance the first song “Surf Hog,” which sounds like surf rock 101. It’s awesome and has a couple of cool twists and turns that make you take notice. “Hunka Dulce” is a poppy, infectious tune that is a lot of fun. I enjoyed his nonchalant vocal delivery. “Do La” was even catchier than the former. His vocals soar as he moans on “A Little Crooked.” The pace of the instruments is giddy on this one. There are some great percussive elements on “Earth Love” and even better percussion on “Big Fractal Universe.” The album closes with “Darling Sweet” which will throw you for a loop because it is a straight up ambient piece. It is a bit odd in context of the album but I enjoyed the piece.
The fact that Carroll did this all by himself and in like two weeks or something is ridiculous. This album is a fun listen
and I am going to check out his other material right now.
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