Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
In this evening’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze on Runaway Scotty, an indie musician whose real name is Christopher Scott Carter. The moniker serves as an outlet for his tunes, and his latest studio endeavor, ‘Rock My Heart,’ is an eclectic jaunt through pop rock musings and infectious stylings. He’s a singer-songwriter with a distinct flair. At the same time, however, he does embrace familiar themes, giving his music a firm grounding in its sound. Let’s dig right into it.
Runaway Scotty cites artists like The Killers and Imogen Heap as influences, which is definitely telling of his musical direction. From the opening notes of ‘Change Change Change,’ he defines himself as a quality songwriter. There’s an elegant art to the execution of a pop rock song. In fact, that art is often overlooked or cynically disregarded as unimportant. Go try to write a good hook; I’ll wait. Then, structure that hook around an equally inviting soundscape that isn’t trope-laden or boring. That’s measurably more difficult. ‘Change Change Change’ proves right out of the gate that Runaway Scotty has a wonderful grip on that outlet of songwriting.
Now, a potential pitfall of a pop rock musician can be predictability. After a few tunes, many albums like this fall into territory they’re too comfortable residing within. When ‘Pool of Love’ kicks off with its gorgeous acoustic guitar followed a dynamic, thrilling full band presentation, I was immediately reassured that ‘Rock My Heart’ wouldn’t fall into stereotypical obscurity like its industry counterparts. ‘Pool of Love’ is a particularly good song, if not just due to its absolutely superb delivery, especially in the choruses and guitar banter.
Runaway Scotty continues to define himself as a compelling composer with ‘Lose Control,’ a piano-driven ballad with especially excellent lyricism. As aforementioned, the album’s guitar banter is very notable. Thus, let’s give credit where it is most certainly due - Anthony Cusenza is the man behind those riffs, and goodness, do they define songs like ‘Lose Control.’ Carter is backed by a variety of talented musicians and vocalists, all of which accentuate the album’s vision with tact.
‘Anyway’ is another delightful track, truly embracing Carter’s ability to pen a quality chorus. His falsetto vocals and varied delivery gives the song a nice layer of complexity. At the core of many of these songs, he’s writing love ballads and ditties. Now, before you, dear reader, get all jaded about that - let’s never forget Sir. Paul McCartney’s sage advice. There will always be a place for silly little love songs.
In order for a song to occupy that space, however, it does have to be good. A poorly executed silly little love song can be a horribly predictable, cringe-worthy endeavor. Fortunately, Runaway Scotty’s ‘Rock My Heart’ pulls out all the stops to maintain a quality experience very much worthy of McCartney’s original enthusiasm for the style. ‘Rome Is Burning’ steps away from that formula to an extent, instead offering a pop rock pursuit that borders classic rock influence. It’s a soulful tune with masterful backing vocals that accent Carter well.
There is something I’d like to touch on, something that ‘Far Behind’ does exhibit. If there is one noticeable pitfall of this record, it’s that Runaway Scotty ditched some of the typical pop songwriting tropes for some of his own. Several of these tracks begin with hauntingly beautiful sparsity, something that is immediately forgone within thirty seconds for an increasingly larger production. ‘Far Behind’ would have been a better song if it had maintained the speed and style it kicks the ball off with. I would have adored seeing a more intimate side of Runaway Scotty that isn’t so polished or “full.” Stripping yourself down sonically can be amazing and ‘Far Behind,’ like many of these songs, hints at the potential of that approach for Runaway Scotty.
‘Seriously’ isn’t particularly notable - I found the song a bit too predictable and formulaic, harkening back to my original concern about the genre that Carter had previously navigated better. ‘The Circle’ returns with a rather intriguing performance, especially instrumentally. That trend is even further exemplified with ‘Follow You Home,’ a track that really stretches into complex directions instrumentally. Those synthesizers? Bloody brilliant, and entirely complimentary to the record’s potential.
‘Long Way From Home’ is as close as you’re going to get to that soft intimacy I think would have suited ‘Far Behind’ far better. This track reinforces that criticism for me, especially in regard to how beautiful that piano and acoustic guitar composition is. ‘Show Me The Way To Heaven’ is an epic culmination of everything that makes ‘Rock My Heart’ a good record - it’s a fitting finale.
‘Rock My Heart’ is a very admirable and solid pop rock effort. At times, it does feel like Carter drops traditional formulas in favor of new ones he has created, and quite honestly, that probably just trades one evil for another. You never want to be overly formulaic with your music. For the vast majority of the record, however, this isn’t the case, and ‘Rock My Heart’ stands true as an indie effort very much worth your time if you dig pop rock. The album drops this December.
- Brett Stewart
Runaway Scotty Offers Fans Virtual Studio Access and Debut Pop Rock LP Before It Hits Stores
Posted: Aug 18, 2015 10:27 AM CDTUpdated: Aug 18, 2015 10:27 AM CDT
This article was originally distributed via ReleaseWire. ReleaseWire, WorldNow and this Site make no warranties or representations in connection therewith.
On September 8, 2015, Singer Songwriter Runaway Scotty will provide exclusive access into the virtual studio for fans who pre-order his album LP, “Rock My Heart”, via PledgeMusic. Available products willinclude digital and physical content, signed copies, merchandise, executive producer credit, and acoustic house concerts. A video has been released with an upcoming single on the way.
Dallas, TX -- (ReleaseWire) -- 08/18/2015 -- Singer Songwriter Runaway Scotty has announced the pre-release of his debut pop rock LP entitled "Rock My Heart." Launching September 8, 2015, the project will be on PledgeMusic for everyone to see and experience. Scotty will provide exclusive access into the virtual studio for music fans who pre-order the album. For as little as $10, pledgers get a behind the scenes look at how the music was made and special insight into the creative process. Originated in Naples, Italy in early 2014 and scheduled to complete finishing touches this month in Dallas, TX, the evolution of songwriting and arrangements will be exclusively shared with fans that join the campaign. Music lovers who have a passion for pop rock music inspired by Imogen Heap and The Killers will want to get involved before the ink dries. Pledgers will receive exclusive access to musical rarities, such as alternate versions, acoustic versions, and instrumentals that are unavailable to the public. And since this project has evolved over 18 months, there is plenty of unreleased material to share.An early release has been hailed as "full of genuine hooks that feel like they've lived inside of you for years just waiting for someone else to express them somehow. You feel like you recognize these warm tones without being able to pinpoint a single melody to anyone other than Runaway Scotty's own catalog and if that isn't the sign of a fantastic songwriter I have no idea what else could be." - Sleeping Bag Studios.To prepare for the launch, on August 17, Runaway Scotty released his first single and promotional music video of the catchy pop song "Change Change Change" via his YouTube channel and Facebook fan page. The single will be available for purchase via download or streaming the following week via all major online retailers. "Change Change Change" showcases the scale of talent involved in the project, provides listeners the magnitude of quality in the music, and leaves them begging for more.About Runaway ScottyRunaway Scotty is a classically trained singer songwriter, guitarist, arranger, producer, and coffee lover who has recruited a team of world class musicians and engineers to fuel his debut multi-genre release, "Rock My Heart". The heavy contrast of ecclesiastical music blended with rock influence is the nexus of creativity for his forthcoming album. Originated in Naples, Italy, Scotty hopes the tracks on the record can provide a pathway for a listener's own personal transformation. "It's a process of owning and honoring one's darkness in order to create acceptance and ultimately find a true light within so that it can be shared with others," he says. "Rock My Heart"will be available for pre-order September 8, 2015 on PledgeMusic. For more information, visit:www.runawayscotty.comwww.facebook.com/runawayscottywww.twitter.com/runawayscottywww.youtube.com/runawayscottymusicwww.instagram.com/runawayscottyFolks should remember how far a social media "Like" or "Share" can travel. Music fans desiring more information or who would like to contribute in other ways can contact Patsy Hesson at email@example.com. Contact:Patsy HessonPublic Relationsinfo@runawayscotty.com501-472-7572
For more information on this press release visit: http://www.releasewire.com/press-releases/runaway-scotty-offers-fans-virtual-studio-access-and-debut-pop-rock-lp-before-it-hits-stores-617959.htm
“Runaway Scotty – Rock My Heart – Pre-release Album Review
Doesn’t matter what the genre is really…as soon as I find out I’m listening to something potentially before the rest of the ears out there in the world, I slip right into that kid-in-the-candy-store mode or like I’m opening up a present on Christmas. Absolutely one of the best things about reviewing bar-none, and always an incredible honour to be able to listen to someone’s music before the track-listing is even set in stone! That’s right – we’ve gotten our hands on the new album from Runaway Scotty before the packaging has even printed and the strings of the guitar are still ringing in the studio – it’s THAT new.
I’ve always been perplexed at where music like this truly lives in our modern day and age. You could say that of all music that has a soft-rock edge to it like you’ll find in the track we started on called “Pool Of Love;” bands like Coldplay, Snow Patrol, Keane, The Killers, Pete Yorn that all have aspects to their music similar to Runaway Scotty…sometimes it makes me wonder where they ‘fit’ into the radio-scene and mainstream. I think bands and artists like these have that ability to change our perception of ‘what’s cool.’ You know what I think is cool? Great song-writing. Period. It doesn’t matter what genre you’re in – write a killer song or killer album and believe in every note you play & play them like your very life depends on it. That’s how those bands convinced us that ballads and emotional pop-rock & folk-rhythms could own our stereos in the midst of summer just as easily as the loudest of rock songs.
And that might very well be how Christopher Scott Carter, the man behind will convince you too – the songs on his debut album Rock My Heart are full of genuine hooks that feel like they’ve lived inside of you for years just waiting for someone else to express them somehow. You feel like you recognize these warm tones without being able to pinpoint a single melody to anyone other than Runaway Scotty’s own catalog – and if that isn’t the sign of a fantastic songwriter I have no idea what else could be. There is an audible magic to what Runaway Scotty is making…a real beauty of the pursuit of pure melody that I personally admire.
To think that we’ve still got an ‘unfinished’ copy here in this pre-release review…you should see the smile on my face! Whatever’s ‘left to be done’ has gotta be pretty minimal from what I can hear…this is pretty damn perfect almost all the way through and as far as my ears are concerned this is entirely ready-to-roll. Truly very little I’d see myself wanting to change in these big-anthem hooks…Christopher Scott Carter is going to be a name I already feel like I’ll be hearing from other people in the not-too-distant future to come.
Truthfully as my own mix of these songs starts through its playlist yet again over here at sleepingbagstudios – I begin to realize that “Pool Of Love” which starts the order or my list might very well be the track that resonated the least strongly with me. Despite the hooks being solid and the singing spot-on…at this point my brain already knows that “Change Change Change” is going to spring up on this list the moment it’s done. To me the opening of this cut could easily be the first track on Rock My Heart’s official finalized track-order; with the fantastic energy and uplifting vibe in both the lyrics and music coming together as perfectly as they do – I can’t imagine a better introduction into the music of Runaway Scotty. The chorus on “Change Change Change” is one of the absolute strongest on this album and honestly just soars with pop-rock beauty in an authentic melody delivered powerfully moment after moment as it changes and switches its parts.
Songs like “Lose Control” really show what a singer that Christopher Scott Carter can be…he holds notes with a professional’s approach and puts out perfect tones inside these gigantic hooks. If anything I can hear that MAYBE this might be one of the tracks he wanted a bit more time with, but certainly not for the writing – that works just fine as it is. I’d go after the mix on this one just a little bit more…that first punch into the chorus sounds a little thin musically compared to the impact it might supposed to be carrying…maybe a little more low-end groove in there might just give it the punch that it deserves. As it stands – “Lose Control” still possesses some of the most addicting hooks in the set and definitely should convince you already of this dude’s ability to write memorable melodies.
And guitar! Oh man do not even get me STARTED! Okay…maybe just a moment or two spent talking about the RAD solo and guitar-work you’ll find in “Lose Control.” It’s as inventive as it is well-played and let me tell ya – that’s precision work right there so you best believe the sound itself is plenty creative. Similar could be said of “Rome Is Burning,” which has immense classic-rock vibes grooving throughout the melodies and harmonies; that track definitely finds a way to build upon itself in tremendous ways. Wasn’t sold on it as it started, but by the time it ended Runaway Scotty had convinced me to buy in to his direction and ideas once again.
With the playful piano, gorgeous vocals and melodically-strong chorus – “Anyway” is certainly one of my favourite tunes for the confident approach and strong set of hooks. Like someone crossed Snow Patrol with Better Than Ezra and added a pinch of the serious end of Ben Folds…rare as those moments can be for that dude – but that gives you, or should give you a real glimpse into the real knack for melody that Christopher Scott Carter has and incorporates into his music. The vocal-flow of “Seriously” would be another great indication throughout the verse…but all that aside for a moment – LISTEN to the attack on that chorus from CSC! I dig the way he lets the beast loose fully and rages into this chorus after bringing it down just slightly to let the music burst brightly into an epic explosion of all-the-sounds-I-want-to-hear-right-now. Completely effective mix on this tune and damn flawless if you were to ask me.
I swear there’s a real tenor capable of opera and all the theatrics that come with that style in Chris. Listening to the focus and commitment he has on “Far Behind” makes it all a little more serious and personal…the struggle documented in the lyrics is one you truly feel has hit its author hard. If anything…I could see this one maybe not being the one that hits people instantly first time through Rock My Heart – but it very well could be the track the holds up the longest over time; maybe a little smoothing out on the corners of a few lines throughout the song…but again, not much I’d touch here either. Tremendous instincts in song-writing here…I’m glad no one’s over my shoulder making me count the hooks because this album and “Far Behind” in particular have too many to count.
The shortest song on the album clocking in at just under four-minutes long, “The Circle” has a beautiful slow-build to it. The presence of bass really makes itself known with a strong part that really brings the rhythm out in this melody…then the drums start in and this whole track shifts into another gear entirely. The vocals roll smoothly out and fit tighter into this track somehow…he’s found a spot-on mix here as he makes reference to the album’s title within the lyrics and delivers these hooks with an uplifting spirit and audible confidence.
For me…”Follow You Home” was maybe not the strongest tune on the album despite loving the sentiment of the lyrics. I dunno…you see…that’s the thing…there are INCREDIBLE parts within each song from Runaway Scotty…there are perfect moments in “Follow You Home.” I love the breakdowns in this song…I think it’s just the overall tempo of the main parts of this song is just one that has never really yielded too many songs that give me that emotion in the melody very often. I’m a sullen & melancholy melody guy…slow if I get my way when it comes to this genre.
As if on cue to support my feelings on this subject, Runaway Scotty takes everything down and strips the beginning of “Long Way From Home” to a simplified piano, voice and gentle guitar combination. The singing is fantastic and there’s an interesting dynamic between some lyrics I found to be really strong and a few that I felt drew upon some ideas that have been done – but in particular, right around the two-minute-thirty mark (ish) the melody opens up gorgeously from here towards the end in what becomes my favourite performance from Christopher Scott Carter on this entire album. He’s doing some extremely creative things with his vocals and it’s a sound and style I would absolutely love to hear him explore more of. So what if I’m not looking for another dance-floor hit – that’s what I’ve been saying all along from the very beginning here – I’m a fan of GREAT song-writing and what I hear in Runaway Scotty is more than commendable and completely worth every moment I’ve spent.
Ending the order that I have these songs in, is the last tune “Show Me The Way To Heaven,” which I’m certain would be a definite closing track if the finalized line-up doesn’t have “Long Way From Home” bringing the album’s end to a different direction. These are all theories…but in the order I have it – MAN is this a perfect ending; it’s like a blend of Midnight Oil and U2. I mean…CSC brought out the U2 staple guitar-sounds on this tune…really doesn’t matter who you are or what you do with that effect – the comparisons are always going to jump to U2 in a listener’s ear proving that you might not be able to copyright a sound but man can you sure OWN one in music. Regardless of comparison – this is a powerful last song on this early-playlist I’ve purloined and for myself, I wouldn’t have Rock My Heart wrap up any other way. I think the order & layout are all strong, the songs themselves have so many hooks that if you put this music in the ocean you’d potentially catch all the fish with no net & just the sounds of Runaway Scotty. Really impressed with what Christopher Scott Carter has done with this album from writing to performance and the guy should be proud of himself for what he’s achieved here.
And hopefully when the ink is finally dry on the liner-notes of the album he’ll send one our way – I’d love to hear the finalized version of how this all comes out!
Find out more details on Runaway Scotty and be the first to know when Rock My Heart is officially available by checking out these official sites: