Finding new music can be a challenge sometimes. I often get stuck on playing the records I’m currently obsessed with over and over again. It is usually my amazing music guru friends that introduce me to new tracks and help me find new artists but for this particular post, I have Spotify Discover to thank.
I was listening to a random mix composed by Spotify’s algorithm when my attention was suddenly drawn to a slow, hyper-emotional ballad-like track with a confessional note radiating an overwhelming amount of feelings. This was the simple start of my meeting with Call Me Karizma and his EP series The Gloomy Tapes. After finishing an intensive listening-spree I decided there is enough to say to dedicate a blog post to this faithful discovery.
The first song I ever heard by Call Me Karizma was I’m Ok. It hit me with an emotional overflow like a high-speed truck and completely f*cked me up – I felt the feelings described and it genuinely hurt me. Supportive instrumental elements and great delivery were also helping but what really got me were the ingenious lyrics and extremely close personal storytelling.
This is probably Morgan Parriott’s strongest weapon – when he sings you cannot help but sympathize and experience his emotions yourself. A living example of pure emo music his art is a lot of things but touching and relevant definitely describe it best.
The artist goes into topics of great importance that are extremely delicate at the same time. He also adds a personal touch and once in a while throws in an empowering undertone showcasing his undeniable support towards others suffering from the things he describes.
The Gloomy Tapes is a series of EPs that take on socio-political global problems as well as personal, intimate struggles involving mental health and the consequences of various traumas. All of those themes are explored in-depth with illustrative examples and metaphors impossible not to affect listeners.
I respect artists who take on important subjects many others avoid because of how touchy things can get. Well, Call Me Karizma definitely has the right approach and combines the relevant themes with great vocal execution and fitting instrumental build-up.
The way he expresses empathy and support towards listeners who can relate to his music is admirable. Some of the tracks delve into severe depression and anxiety while others pinpoint life-changing childhood traumas and the importance of parental guidance and support. The negative influences of lacking the latter are also highlighted in an attempt to send an urgent reminder towards many who, in one way or another, take part in the process.
Emo culture is fiercely revived with the colourful discography of the artist and The Gloomy Tapes are good proof of that. So what are they all about?
Listen to The Gloomy Tapes Vol 1
I think the first volume of The Gloomy Tapes (the titles fits the concept and structure so well it is satisfying on many levels) sets the stage and introduces the idea wonderfully.
Actually, two of the six tracks on the record have the character of commentaries that give clarity on the concept and enhance the impact of the songs. During Introduction, Call Me Karizma shortly goes through each song and explains why he wrote it and what he stands for by releasing this EP.
Each track unveils a different equally relevant thematic. Some of them overlap slightly and showcase how each problem we have is connected to another. For example, the mellow and soft overall execution of Angel revealing the issues with neglective parents and the possible devastating consequences is fittingly expanded in the highlight of the EP – the emotionally hard-hitting Johnny.
So I grab the semi-automatic in the safe
Load the clip with all these mounting problems that I face
Feel the steel against my temple ’til I feel okay
Maybe if I fall to the ground I could fly away
Johnny is first introduced by the second commentary in the EP PSA: Johnny where Call Me Karizma takes the time to clear up any possible misunderstandings regarding his position on the topic. The seriousness of the issue that Jonny talks about and the absolutely urgent measures that need to be taken are not overlooked as well. The song itself dismantles two taboos – school shootings and mental health awareness – in a very impactful way.
The artist doesn’t forget to mention any of the affected or part-taking sides and gives the story a terrifying accuracy (it is, in reality, something that happens often, names change but the story is the same).
We’re asking everyone and anyone that sees warning signs
To please offer help and love and compassion
To those who need it
Together we can make a difference
The two remaining songs on The Gloomy Tapes Vol 1 deal with the decision to devote your life to music. Rockstar presents an energetic shift from the highly-emotional moods of Angel and Johnny – the track gracefully fuses alt-pop, pop-punk, and sharp hip-hop verses with heavy post-chorus to create a powerful effect.
And while Rockstar explores the initial fantasy of Call Me Karizma about what being part of the music world would be like Let Me Go goes back to the emotional aspects of the same topic and brings back the mellow sound and vocals.
The track tells the personal story of the artist and his decision and process of entering the music scene. The struggle and hard work that he had to go through to follow his passion are clear and the message of defying following a predefined path you do not agree with shines bright. This motive is further explored in the second volume of The Gloomy Tapes (Recycled Youth) but Let Me Go uses it to send empowering and motivational vibes despite the heavily saddening instrumental structure.
Listen to The Gloomy Tapes Vol 2
Volume two of the EP series skips the introductions and clarifications and allows the lyrics and instrumentals to speak for themselves.
With seven solid tracks The Gloomy Tapes Vol 2 strongly focus on expressing troubling feelings in an emotionally impactful way. There is, of course, a breath of fresh air and a short break from the overwhelming emotional pouring.
Rebels does this well – a highly energetic song about living free and making the best of life. A fitting rebellious tone supports the song and turns it into an ode to reckless teenage “golden years”.
But before we get to that part we have to experience some tougher themes first. The EP starts with a song written as a tear-jerking appreciation letter towards a friend who has made your life better and who, in some way, you own your life to.
I’m Ok has a confessional note and an obvious build-up hinting that the letter of appreciation and gratitude will take a dramatic turn at one point. And it does – the personal story goes through some twists and developments leading to a tragic conclusion that is sure to play with your emotions and leave you slightly (or radically) broken.
I knew you were the last person who I’d give my heart
I want you to know I loved you right from the start, yeah
I listen when the pastor said you would hurt no more
I threw that blade inside your grave and said once more
There of the songs on the EP put a heavy focus on mental health as well. Anxiety, depression, and medication as an attempt to escape the pain are well intertwined with dealing with negativity in Serotonin. Once again the artist uses his secret weapon and includes personal storytelling in the song to make his message even stronger and touches on the roots of the problem instead of only focusing on the effects and possible outcomes.
Monster and Imaginary Illness take on the topics again and delve deeper using the right vocals and instrumental shifts to highlight certain aspects of the issues.
I hate parties, I hate people
I hate the kinda friend that only calls you when they need you
I fucking hate my bed but never leave it
Like a girl does when she’s beaten
Start to love the pain I’m feeling
Feeling numb is not me healing
Someone give me something to live for
I can’t wake up to no one and expect me to feel more
I used to dream of seeing my face up on the billboards
Now all I want is u to fucking see what I’m ill for
The surface-scratched topic of following pre-defined paths and subconsciously falling into the footsteps of your parents (Let Me Go) is thoroughly dissected in Recycled Youth. The song gives concrete examples and warns about possible future development while putting the focus on encouragement to follow one’s own ways. It easily turns into an ode of unity and empowerment with its rebellious tone and heavy instrumentals taking the spotlight.
A fitting touch of a necessary element to complete the ride through sensitive emotional topics Rain is the definition of emo. A nostalgic look back at the past highlighting the longing for past good times the song work surprisingly well served on lively beats and flawlessly executed hip-hop vocals.
Call Me Karizma’s music and The Gloomy Tapes, in particular, represent a nostalgic revival of the age of emo. Emotional and relevant the featured songs might be a bit overwhelming with negativity and saddening stories but they are all an actual part of life.
It is important to note the stunning ability of the artist to combine the mentioned subjects with diverse influences in terms of sounds and vocals. Many elements are carefully put together to create the end result and I have to say it does the job it is supposed to quite well. It makes you feel, it makes you think, and it makes you empathic.
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