Mike Caridi, co-founder of Double Double Whammy and one-fourth of Brooklyn’s LVL UP, has been making his own tunes quietly and prolifically for years now. Many of them eventually evolved into LVL UP tunes, but lately he’s been sharing his solo songs with greater frequency and intention, as The Glow. LOSE, released this past July, was full of short, ultra-melodic and memorable power pop tunes that manage to pack a lot of introspection. Now Caridi has released a new three-song EP that manages especially to build on the emotive depth of the last. Where in LOSE there were clipped confessions and brief images, weight gives us narratives that feel more drawn-out and colored-in.
“I am not warm, I am not cheek to cheek, I am not the person you want me to be,” Caridi sings in an upfront admission of personal limitations to open the EP, against fuzzed-out guitar and an overblown drum machine. weight is an appropriate title to convey the emotional burden that Caridi draws into these three tracks, each of them just under two minutes long. His voice is hushed and close as he expresses the difficulties inherent to intimacy and sometimes to just getting up in the morning. But for being so emotionally weighted, the music is still light, and the arrangements are playful and energetic—he’s pulled in winding lines of synths and what sounds like a recorder along with his idiosyncratic guitar layering. On “losing my cool”, the closest thing to a love song on the album, Caridi brings one of his distinctive twinned-guitar solos over the sway of an acoustic-electric mesh and tambourine, and a charming little riff at the tail end of the recording serves as a reminder that making the record was probably loads of fun. He follows this in the next track with a sweet, lilting pop melody, but meanwhile the words he says are unsparing, with plaintive lines like “You’re still the apple of my eye / but this morning I wanted to die” piercing straight through. There’s so much sweetness and affection here, which makes the occasional intimation of grief all the more hard to swallow.
weight is out now, self-released on The Glow’s Bandcamp. We talked briefly with Mike Caridi via email, and you can read his thoughts on the record below.
You had some help on LOSE, but everything on this EP (aside from vocals by Montana Levy of Sharpless) was written and performed by you, right? How does writing for a solo project differ from writing for LVL UP?
I wrote the bones of most of the songs on LOSE for the May 5 to 12 song a day project, then later collaborated with a few friends to make a more comprehensive full band release. My friend Nick [Corbo] recorded a bunch of it and played some auxiliary instruments throughout the release, and my friend Montana sang on a few tracks with me. The process of recording that EP wasn’t far from past recording processes with LVL UP; we have typically always home-recorded, then passed off the recordings to be mixed by our friend Mike Ditrio (he also helped mix LOSE, and mastered it). The songs on weight came together much differently in my mind. It was the first time I’d recorded entirely by myself, which is the reason these recordings are much noisier and lo-fi, and I tried to work with some new instruments that I’m not necessarily as comfortable or familiar with (keys, drum machine, almost entirely nylon string and 12-string guitar, etc). Working with LVL UP is a super collaborative process, which is why while there are three clear songwriters who pull from different sounds, the tracks become cohesive with each other. Allowing myself to take full control musically and aesthetically with The Glow, especially on weight, I think has been an interesting experiment in seeing how the songs can come out much more unrefined but capture a completely different vibe than they would have with LVL UP.
On “losing my cool” you sing about kissing “by the river in secrecy”—I hear a hint of suburban nostalgia on the record. Do you think living in Brooklyn has affected your writing?
A lot of the experiences that have stuck with me and imagery that I continually reference has so much to do with where I grew up in northwest Connecticut. I had a lot of freedom in my area, and spent much of my time driving, or hanging in a few of what were my typical spots. While moving to Brooklyn (and before that attending SUNY Purchase) definitely had a huge influence on the way I write and play music, the most formative years of my life were spent smooching my first ~true love~ by the river, and drinking expired dumpster wine in my best friend’s barn. If anything, living in Brooklyn has put those moments of my life into perspective because I hold them much more dearly, and reflect on them more fondly than any memories I’ve created in the city, which in turn I think has created that nostalgia you’re referencing.
Who’s the dog on the cover?
The dog on the cover of weight is my dog Grace. The photo was taken by my little cousin Patrick, who has low functioning autism and lives with my parents. When I was visiting home recently I found a roll of film my mom let him take and it was full of these unbelievable photographs, I wish I could show them all to everyone because I’m still so excited about them. I’m attaching two photographs because they’re so good and you should see them!
The dog on the cover of LOSE is my childhood dog Beamer, who passed when I was in 6th grade, and I still have recurring dreams about.