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Emo band Carpool explores heartbreak, self-discovery on debut album 

click to enlarge ART BY AARON GORDON OF XVCOLLAGE
  • ART BY AARON GORDON OF XVCOLLAGE
In a year that halted tours and closed down venues, Carpool has been keeping busy. The four-piece emo band from Rochester shot a new music video, started working on their second full-length release, and even appeared on Audiotree Live. The band’s debut album, “Erotic Nightmare Summer,” was released last year, but its initial impact was muted by the pandemic. It’s a raw and cathartic record, reminiscent of early-2000s pop-punk bands like Taking Back Sunday and The Early November.

Now, after a year of staying inside and physical distancing, listeners can experience the album in a setting that matches the spirit of the music: blasting “Erotic Nightmare Summer” from the speakers on a hot July evening with a car full of friends.

The opening track, “Cruel Intentions," draws listeners in with dynamic group vocals and melancholic acoustic riffs from guitarist Tommy Eckerson. The tone of the album is set as vocalist Stoph Colasanto delivers the crushing words, “I don’t see what you see in me / I think it’s fucked up how you lack all empathy.” The third song, “Salty Song (Erotic Nightmare Summer),” includes playful instrumental components as Colasanto pairs a glockenspiel with RJ Demarco’s driving bassline.


The technical prowess of the quartet shines most brightly on “Driving Under the Skinfluence.” On this track, you can fully appreciate the added value of having four vocalists in the group. As the song settles into its groove, the band members break out into striking harmonies that add a distinctive and lush texture. The slower pace allows Eckerson’s guitar lines to pop and glimmer, revealing a quality similar to Origami Angel or Prince Daddy & the Hyena.


The lyrics throughout the album are consistently funny, clever and current. On the track “Beauty School Dropout,” the group encapsulates the universal sentiments of a 21st-century breakup, exclaiming, “We were made for each other / never be with another / now I don’t like your pictures on the ’gram.”

Tracks on the second half of “Erotic Nightmare Summer,” such as “Come Thru Cool (Punk Ass),” reinforce the seasonal quality of the album. The lyrics reference quintessential elements of the teenage experience circa 2005 — from watching the second season of “The OC” to skinny-dipping in the lake.


Elements of nostalgia aside, there’s a healthy amount of self-awareness, which eventually leads to an internal wake-up call. On “East Coast West Coast,” a resounding chorus shouts, “I’m on the East Coast, you’re on the west coast / Who’s missing who the most? / Shit’s getting old.”

Lyrically, “Erotic Nightmare Summer” captures the isolation experienced by someone trying to pull themselves from a toxic romance. Musically, it’s the soundtrack to emerging from that isolation and reconnecting with one’s self and others in the process. Grab a friend, head to the beach, and turn the speakers up loud.

Emmarae Stein is a freelance writer for CITY. Feedback on this article can be directed to dkushner@rochester-citynews.com.
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