Album Reviews

The Carnivaleros

Dreams Are Strange

Artist:     The Carnivaleros

Album:     Dreams Are Strange

Label:     RootaVega Records

Release Date:     03/29/2016


In their fifth album, Dreams Are Strange, the Carnivaleros have created a gumbo of sounds from different musical backgrounds and styles, drawing influence from polka, swing and Zydeco, to name just a few sources of inspiration.

Gary Mackender makes good use of his accordion and its slow rhythm infiltrates every track on the album. The band describes Dreams Are Strange as equal part lyrical stories of American Gothic characters from fiction and instrumentals written for film and television.

There can truthfully be no doubt regarding the lyrical originality of the songs. One number is dedicated to the life of Mamie Eisenhower, for instance. Lines like: “A vote for Ike/What’s not to like/She became FLOTUS” are just one part of what makes Dreams Are Strange such a lovably quirky compilation. If pressed to make a comparison, there’s a little bit of the Decemberists here, a touch of theatrical Americana band the Builders and the Butchers there, but it’s a sound that inhabits its own, unique niche.

Although there’s a surrealist tinge to the entire work, Dreams Are Strange remains a very accessible, whimsical album with catchy tunes and a gentle quality added through Mackender’s mellow voice. Hopefully readers will forgive the pun, but the Carnivaleros really do march to the beat of their own drums in this latest production.

– Leah Dearborn

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