Concept albums are always a gamble. In one sense, the pay off can be big and define an era in artist or band’s career. This was the case with Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” and Green Day’s “American Idiot,” both of which also had strong songs which could standalone as radio singles. They can also serve as great creative outlets, inspiring songs that tell a story beyond the usual three to four minutes of a song.
Inevitably, these were some of the considerations that went into Karmin’s newest album entitled “Leo Rising.” In preparing for the album’s release, husband and wife duo Amy Heidemann-Noonan and Nick Noonan met with an astrologist to understand the signs of the horoscope, drawing inspiration from each of them in writing the album’s twelve tracks. The album is slated for release on September 9, but the band has been releasing the songs one by one on iTunes and I was lucky enough to acquire a copy of it at Cincinnati’s Pride Festival this year, where the band headlined the festival and sold copies, donating all the proceeds to helping those affected by the tragic shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
In breaking down the album’s signs, the lead single “Sugar” is the Taurus track. It’s a track that gives some breathing room for Amy’s surprisingly rhythmic rapping, giving the tune an off-beat urban flair that’s different than the usual radio single and makes it stick in your mind. It also has the syrupy drip of the pair’s jazz roots, taking it down a notch to keep it funky.
I, myself, am I Cancer and was eager to hear the track assigned to my sign entitled “No Suitcase.” It’s a track that I can relate to because the protagonist of the song has the impulse to drop everything and start fresh, which is a feeling I’ve had more than once in my life. And perhaps it’s a feeling non-Cancers get too, which is what makes the album work.
Whether you believe in horoscopes or not, you’re bound to seek out the song that relates to you own sign and pick apart whether it truly defines you and, if it doesn’t, you will wonder if you exemplify the traits of that sign at all. Furthermore, you’ll listen to the other songs on the album to see if they define the people you know and, in the process, find messages you relate to in them to.
For example, I doubt there’s anyone who has been in a relationship that has failed that can’t relate to the Gemini track, “Didn’t Know You,” the title of which speaks for itself and the driving beat of which will have you dancing along if you weren’t already to the opening track “Dance With Me” which is assigned to the Aries among us. Or “Easy Money,” the Aquarius track that captures everyone’s desire that they didn’t have to work quite so hard for that paycheck.
The freedom of the new label also seems to have given the band a new authenticity to their sound. With Nick on production and Amy’s diverse range of skills from the rap prose she became known for in their breakout cover of “Look At Me Now” to the sweeping vocals that are best showcased on the album’s ballads, including “Along the Road” and “Come With Me (Pure Imagination)”, a modern reimagining of the Willy Wonka track that preserves the original dream-like quality of the song, the couple history in the business seems brighter than ever and the potential they showed to produce genre-defying music on this album is what will likely help solidify their place in the music industry.
Karmin’s album, “Leo Rising” comes out on iTunes September 9th, but you can preorder it on their website and you can already get “Sugar”, “Come With Me (Pure Imagination),” “Along the Road,” “Didn’t Know You” and “Yesterday” on iTunes. Also check out the band’s Twitter @karminmusic, Facebook, and Instagram.