Cari Clara
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Cari Clara

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


Cari Clara swept onto the local music scene two years ago cloaked in mystery, yet has racked up praise for its 2002 debut release, gave a highly lauded performance in September at the MidPoint Music Festival and placed among the top three in the 97Xposure band contest last year.

For those who are just getting wind of Cari Clara, here are 10 things to know about the artist and the soon-to-be-released album Miniature American Model Society:

1. Cari Clara is a pseudonym for Eric Diedrichs, former frontman of the Simpletons. After the popular power-pop outfit disbanded in 2002, Diedrichs adopted the gender-ambiguous moniker because he wanted the project to be judged on its own merits.

2. Cari Clara's self-titled first record was self-released. The new album comes out July 13 on local label Tiberius Records.

3. Diedrichs, 28, recorded and mixed the 10 songs on Miniature American Model Society in the modest studio in his downtown apartment.

4. To pen the tracks for Cari Clara, Diedrichs pulled a songwriting 180. For the Simpletons, "we did hooks" - he snags his cheek with a crooked finger. For the new record, Diedrichs started with simple sonic concepts, such as the throb of his own accelerated pulse - "places I never thought I'd find a song," he says. The musician then added layers of sound during the recording process to construct a set of intricate songs.

5. Listen to Miniature American Model Society at least once through headphones, Diedrichs says. "You can really piece it apart when it's that separated from ear to ear."

6. The toughest track for Diedrichs to nail during recording happens to be the most sparse song on the record, "Cruel Was the Lesson." "The success of the song is that it relies solely on the vocals," he says. "I'm glad I waited for it."

7. To perform the Cari Clara songs live, Diedrichs convenes a band of veteran Greater Cincinnati musicians, including guitarist Jason Arbenz and bass player Brock Cunningham. Diedrichs' brother, keyboardist Mark Diedrichs (a former Simpleton), travels from Chicago for practices and shows.

8. The band also features two drummers, Josh Hagen and a musician known as Tooch, to reproduce the tiers of percussion on the record.

9. Miniature American Model Society won't be available in stores or online (cariclara.com; tiberiusrecords.com) until next month, but fans can get their hands on it tonight at the album release show.

10. The local show is Cari Clara's first stop on a tour that runs through September. Then it's back to the home studio for Diedrichs. "I want to continue putting out music, and with the intention of it just getting better and better every time," he says.

- Cincinnati Enquirer


The Story
In the late '90s, Diedrichs led one of Cincinnati's top original bands, the Simpletons, which included brother Mark. But he wanted to make music a little darker and more emotionally complex than the Simps' classic pop rock and he dissolved the band in 2002. At first a solo pseudonym for Deidrichs, cari clara evolved into a full band that debuted in May of this year. In September, cari clara gave one of the strongest performances at MidPoint Music Festival and is now a semi-finalist in the 97Xposure band contest. - Cincinnati Enquirer


Eric Diedrichs, formerly lead singer-songwriter with the now defunct Simpletons, has made an amazing leap from pop rock to art rock with his Cari Clara project, releasing the self-titled, 10-cut CD full of elegantly produced and written atmospheric, ambient compositions. Diedrichs performs most of the instruments and vocals on the CD. It's a giant musical switch from the Simpletons, which released two locally acclaimed power pop albums.

"My focus just sort of shifted," Diedrichs said. "It was a natural progression of what I was writing. It didn't fit the shell anymore. When the Simpletons broke up, I said, 'Ok, let's see where this leads.'"

While progressive and moody on the CD, Diedrichs does flash the same lush and thickly produced feel as the Simpletons. He says the tough part was playing the material live, but he's pulled that off with a six-piece outfit.

- Cincinnati Post


I’d have to wonder what a miniature American society would look like, at least through the looking glass if not straight-on. Well the description held within this amazing juggernaut of an electronic experiment is a good start. The vocals are larger than life and recall past performances of Bono. Meanwhile the synthesizers swoon and coalesce the percussion that is both light and deliberate. The moods and atmospheres captured here wash ashore to the happy island that we all dream of secretly - smother.net


Watch out Grant Lee Phillips: Cari Clara are coming to take away your electro chill out-pop crown. Anchored by propulsive laptop beats and saturated with synth strings and colorful loops, Miniature American Model Society adds jangly guitars and tenor vocals to shame Elbow’s brethren at the “futuristic melancholy” game. Atmospheres breathe between grooves, hooks submerge only to surface when most appropriate… can you say “music to drive in full moonlight by?”

Midwest talents such as Cari Clara have been overlooked for far too long.
- transformonline.com


Odd, shambling, quirky indie rock which veers from flanged distortion to gentle melodies. To get an idea of the kind of broad, sweeping musical spectrum this record covers, it incorporates elements of psychedelia, power-pop, rock, electronica - and that's literally the tip of this iceberg. I can hear Big Star, Primal Scream, the Butthole Surfers, Pavement ... this list could go on, but what it boils down to is that there are only a handful of contemporary artists that are this ambitious and diverse (two that spring to mind are The Beta Band and Simian). When most songs start, I haven't the slightest clue where they're going because, as Cari Clara proves in "We're The Pollution," they can transform a song that wouldn't have sounded out of place on a lo-fi Guided By Voices record to a soothing, droning, indie rock gem which reminds me of Radiohead in one beat. I won't even bother with classifications (except to tell you that this isn't even close to punk or emo or anything like them), because the only way I can really explain this is noting that it's perfect for a long summer drive through the desert with the top down and the radio up when no other cars are around. It's expansive enough to fill that space. Chalk this disc up as a hugely unexpected surprise which is surprisingly good.

- punkrockacademy.com


The skinny: With his 2002 self-titled debut under the alter-ego Cari Clara moniker, singer/songwriter Eric Diedrichs unquestionably succeeded in removing comparisons to his successful Power Pop band The Simpletons from the minds of new listeners. With an ethereal, majestic lo-fi sound that took a less direct approach to melody and songwriting, the one-man Cari Clara quickly became one of the most talked about "bands" in town, a pretty steep accomplishment when you consider this was based almost solely on the actual recording and not any sort of live show.


Photo By Dale M. Johnson
Cari Clara with Eric Diedrichs (far right)
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Diedrichs has since assembled an impressive backing band of local music vets for concerts, but for Miniature American Model Society he maintained his more solitary ways, recording the entire project in his home studio by himself.

Diedrichs says that for the next album he hopes to utilize the entire band. It was put together at the same time the album was being recorded, so he says he felt more comfortable finishing the project on his own. His reliance on capturing the creative spark as it happens -- being hit with inspiration and then getting it on to tape immediately -- makes it impractical to stop everything and phone in his bandmates.

"It's about getting that initial emotion in my head and then seeing it through to the finish," Diedrichs says of his process. "(Recording on my own) is out of necessity more than anything." But he's clearly excited to include the full band on future projects. "I love my band, as musicians and as people. I pray I never have to trade a member away."

Though less lo-fi, Diedrichs recaptures and expands on the dark, textural and gut-wrenchingly emotional vibe of Cari Clara on Society, his first release for the locally-based Tiberius Records, which will throw full promotional support (radio, press, touring) behind the album this summer.

With Tiberius' wide indie distribution and promotional net, Diedrichs will be logging a ton of touring miles in the months following the album's national release date, doing shows solo or with the full band (or factions of the band, given some bandmembers' work schedules and his brother/bandmate Mark Diedrichs' recent move to Chicago). Locally, the album will be released in conjunction with a show at The Cavern. It can't come quick enough for Diedrichs, who says he despises any time off from his music.

"When I finished the record and was just waiting on the (release plans), I got really depressed and didn't really know why," he says. "Then I realized it was because I wasn't really doing anything (but waiting for the album to come out). I don't like downtime." (cariclara.com; tiberiusrecords.com)
- Citybeat


High 'Society'
Miniature American Model Society, the second album by local singer/songwriter Eric Diedrichs under the Cari Clara moniker, will be released nationally on July 13 by Tiberius Records (tiberiusrecords.com). But local fans get to dive in early as Diedrichs and his band host a CD release party at The Cavern Friday, where the disc will be available for the first time. Dayton's fantastic Captain of Industry opens the 9 p.m. show.

Diedrichs assembled the album in his home studio, which is fitting because it's the distinct loneliness of Society that's so magnetic. There's a palpable, pronounced melancholy to the album's songs, and that's not only a result of the despondent lyrical content. Diedrichs' ability to soundtrack Society's bleak mood with perfectly matched accompaniment is remarkable. Society is not so much "dark" as it is shadowy -- the music, lyrics and melodies play tricks with the light throughout the album.

While similar in tone to the self-titled Cari Clara debut from a couple of years ago, Society is more fully realized. Diedrichs sounds more comfortable with the equipment, loops and multiple layers that make up both releases. If the debut was a sketchpad, Society is the final, museum-ready product.

The melodic impact of the songs lack the instant gratification of Pop music, but they're no less effective, creeping under your skin and spreading like a virus rather than bashing you over the head with their obviousness. Highlights include the opulent "Statement of Our Fears," which has the hazy sway of The Verve's Urban Hymns; the radiant "We're the Pollution;" and the glorious drone of "Release Me," which features a fantastic Lennon-esque guitar section and showcases Diedrichs' spine-tickling falsetto.

Miniature American Model Society is brilliant from start to finish. It's not merely a collection of songs but a dazzling, cohesive work of art best taken as a whole.

- Citybeat


Discography

Full length (2003) - Self Titled
Full length (2004) - Miniature American Model Society - Tiberius Records

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Cari Clara began as an experiment in songwriting and home recording for Eric Diedrichs. Born as a side project to push the boundaries of style and song structure, Eric began to build songs throughout the recording process- a very different approach than his previous endeavors. The project began to blossom, producing beautiful, brooding soundscapes, anchored by pounding percussion and raw synth pulses. This served as a perfect bed for inventive instrumentation and wonderfully haunting melodies. Dark in their subject matter and at times achingly slow, the songs burned with subtle beauty like the muted colors that saturated early technicolor films.

The self titled debut Cari Clara was released as a solo effort in late 2002. After the release, eric quickly realized that this music was not best served live as a solo performer. Soon after, Eric put together an outstanding cast to perform the music live, enlisting brother Mark Diedrichs (Simpletons) on keyboards, Jason Arbenz (Throneberry, Goose) on guitar, Brock Cunningham (Saving Ray) on bass, Josh Hagen (Saving Ray) on drums, and Tooch on drums. An additional small string section accompanies the band at select shows.

Cari Clara performed its first show in early April 2003. In just a few short months the band has acquired label attention, fantastic press and an enthusiastic fan base.