Carey Alexander – “Ordinary God”


“Ordinary God” is a strongly melodic track off Carey Alexander’s new album Not With Monsters. The effort is a shining example of the artist’s ability to build up bright melodies with spine-chilling, anthemic appeal — akin to Destroyer. In particular, “Ordinary God” rides initially on piano and chipper vocals, with ominous backing vocals — reminiscent of Timber Timbre — emerging shortly thereafter. The “show me your love,” hook — complete with organs, strings, and claps — succeeds immensely, as does the final minute or so, when a rousing assortment of orchestral effects and stirring vocal segments solidify the track as one that tempts repeat listen.

One of the track’s central lyrics is: “The Big Bad Wolf, he swallows wool because, just because.”

Carey says the following of that line: “To me, this line best summarizes what I was going for with this song. Between the religious imagery and the #MeToo predatory language, I was trying to capture the idea that evil is evil because it’s evil because it’s evil. That pure evil is a horror can’t be psychoanalyzed or treated, that it exists just because evil exists on the spectrum of morality.”

More tidbits on the album Not With Monsters — in Carey’s words:

– This album took six years to make and was recorded in a home-built studio. Most of these projects were HUGE. “Mr. Junkyard Man” had like 100 guitar/banjo tracks alone, probably 300 total. “Mr. Junkyard Man” also features unlikely world instruments like the guzheng, which rarely find a way into Western pop music.

– The entire album was inspired by a single line from Friedrich Nietzsche, “Battle not with monsters, unless ye become a monster, and if you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back into you.” The album title Not With Monsters is embedded within that quote. The concept that I wanted to explore is that the valiant effort of fighting evil has this tendency to make monsters of good men. It’s the idea that the true wickedness is a sort of grime that stains you as you remove it.

– The album is structured to prove Nietzsche correct and details a descent into immorality. The happiest, brightest and most optimistic songs come at the top of the album, while the back half has a less reliable narrator and is focused on things like the banality of evil, machiavellism and succumbing to vices.

“Ordinary God” and other memorable tracks from this month can also be streamed on the updating Obscure Sound’s ‘Best of September 2019’ Spotify playlist.

Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

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