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Carrie Brandon – In the Fall EP [Review]

I’m standing in the kitchen making myself a cup of coffee when suddenly I start humming a familiar tune.  I’m trying to figure out where it’s from. The words start arriving to my lips, and I sing:

Have I lost you forever
Cause I need you in my life
Or were you ever really there at all?
Were you ever really there at all?

Who is this by? Where have I heard this? That’s when it hits me: Carrie Brandon.


Two months ago, the Penn State student released a 4-song follow-up to her 2011 debut album.  The nearly 4-year “hiatus” might have had some people wondering what exactly Brandon’s been up to.  After listening to the depth and tenderness wrapped in each note of “In the Fall,” I can safely say that this EP was well-worth the wait.  In between studio recordings, Carrie has so clearly been consumed with feeling, living, regretting, and experiencing every sweet love and bitter heartbreak that characterizes the college experience.Carrie Brandon

The opening track, “How Far Apart,” is a fully-charged depiction of the changing tides of love.  Brandon relates the highs and lows of relationships to seasonal elements and captures the essence of the vulnerabilities that so often complement allowing someone into your heart. You can clearly hear bits and pieces of Carrie’s main musical influences – primarily, Joni Mitchell’s folk vocal riffs and Ingrid Michaelson’s pop-theatrics.  I would never wish heartbreak upon anyone, but if it results in a catchy song like this, it may just be worth it.

The piano featured in “Separated by the Sea” (lyrics referenced above,) immediately caught my attention and had me hooked from the beginning. It reminds me a lot of Sara Bareilles’ stripped-down piano ballads, which never fail to send me into an entrancement.  Carrie sings of the pains of loving someone so intently but being separated by time, place, and circumstance.  There’s an innocence to her tone; a wonderment of what could have been between lyrical lines.

The third song, “What You Do To Me” is a stark contrast to the somberness of the previous.  Horns greet you at the start, along with a very danceable syncopated piano.  We now hear Carrie falling in love. We hear her happiness; her optimism; and the promise of a new beginning.  Coming up with catchy songs can be extremely difficult, but it’s something this singer-songwriter has mastered since her start.
carrie brandon2

The EP closes with “Mister In Misery,” an ode to those struggling with the vicious cycle of addiction.  She offers sincere words of love and support and deplores, “Don’t fall into darkness, wrapped in your fear/When you know you’ll always find us here.”  It’s another raw song, primarily featuring the beauty of her voice and the minimalism of her finger-picked guitar. I’m not sure if this song was written for a specific person, but the intimacy of it suggests it was carefully designed for a loved one. Regardless, its message can easily transfer to anyone in need.

“In the Fall” is a wonderful sign of good things to come from Carrie Brandon.  The California-native brings an interesting take to the world of music, and certainly to Penn State music.  She’s a modern representation of some of the most respected female musicians of the 60s and 70s (e.g. Carol King, Joni Mitchell, Bonnie Raitt.) Her continual evidenced growth as an artist, characterized by the self-inflicted challenges of always trying out new things in the song-writing and production processes, makes her one of Penn State’s most seasoned musicians.  Now a senior and welcoming  the next chapter in life, we can only hope that Brandon continues to craft her skill along the way.

“In the Fall” is currently available for purchase through iTunes and for streaming through Spotify.

Lenina Crowne's Plans To Keep Rocking Penn State

Good news, Lenina Crowne fans: The 5-sometimes-6-man band isn’t leaving us quite yet!  With lead singer, Eric Faust, graduating this December, that leaves one remaining member (graduate student and State College’s own sexy sax man, Nick Rudenko) enrolled at Penn State for the coming year.  As fall graduation quickly approaches, rumors are circulating that Lenina may be taking advantage of the free time to make a daring move to the Philly music scene.  After attending their Friday Noontime performance and speaking with the members, State in the Real is pleased to announce that we have at least one more semester, if not more, of the folk-rock, testosterone-powered band.

Eric Faust relayed the band’s overall sentiments towards a potential advantage of pursuing music in a small town, like State College, over a big city, like Philadelphia.  To put it simply, State College is a central meeting and practicing place for all the members, they’re guaranteed 3-4 shows per week here, and now that all of the members have completed their undergraduate degrees, they have more time to seriously write and record.

“Everything is done online nowadays,” says Faust, “It used to be that a band would play some renowned club in the city with a big-time producer in the back who was scouting new bands to sign.  It’s not like that anymore. For the most part, bands find fame over the internet and social media, so if we can pursue music seriously in a comfortable town, like State College, with guaranteed shows and without having to kill ourselves working to make a living in the city, then why wouldn’t we?”  In the same breath, Faust didn’t discount the possibility of one day moving to Philly once things are more set in place for all of the members.

Some more exciting news from Eric: Lenina Crowne is scheduled to record with the underground-famous Philadelphia recording studio, Weathervane Music (famous for launching the career of Sharon Van Etten, among others, through its highly-viewed Shaking Through Sessions) this January! Stay tuned, readers, because it sounds like LC has some serious tricks up its sleeves for the coming year.




EVENT: Brontide w/ Goon, Balloon Boy, Beat Rip and Wide Open

Come throwdown with the angry underground. Sludge metal sluggers Brontide will be joined by Goon, Balloon Boy, Beat Rip and Wide Open for a chaotic night of debauchery and brutality. Don’t miss out.

RSVP here. Talk to a friend for address details.

From the event page:

happy birthday to me.
happy birthday to Alice.



Balloon Boy

Beat Rip

Open Wide


respect the house.
don’t sing happy birthday,
but do bring me 40s.

Country Singer Jana Kramer Will Perform as a Part of SPA LateNight

The Student Programming Association is thrilled to announce that Jana Kramer, the highest debuting female country singer since 2006, will perform as a part of SPA LateNight on Friday December 12, 2014 at 10 p.m. in Alumni Hall in the HUB-Robeson Center. Students need their IDs for entrance.

Jana Kramer first broke onto the scene as a successful actress, appearing in many films and television shows like CSI, Grey’s Anatomy, Prom Night, Friday Night Lights, Entourage, and more. The actress rose to prominence as a series regular on the hit show One Tree Hill. On this program, Kramer introduced her vocal abilities and eventually started a successful music career.

In 2012, Kramer’s first single “Why Ya Wanna” peaked at no. 3 on the Country Radio Chart, quickly making her one of the fastest rising debut country artists in the past few years. Her 2012 self-titled album reached the top five in the Billboard Top Country Album Chart. Recently, Kramer released her single “Love” off her upcoming second album and the song became the number one Spotify viral country song, showing her success and promise as a country singer.

Speaking of her fans and achievements, the “Whiskey” songstress stated: “My fans have continued to support me, even through some tough times. The excitement that they show me when I am on stage gives me confidence. When I go into the studio, I know I’m getting better every day. I sing with every bit of emotion in my body. I feel like I am giving them the best performance I can give.”

All fans are encouraged to attend Jana Kramer’s concert this Friday in Alumni Hall of the HUB. To learn more information about the concert, SPA LateNight, as well as other SPA events, visit

Album Review: Gone Girl (OST)



Gone Girl, the film, based on the New York Times best seller of the same name by author Gillian Flynn, was an absolutely fantastic film. The movie, starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, directed by David Fincher is a creepy film about a man, Nick (played by Affleck), who comes home to find that his wife, Amy (played by Pike), has gone missing. As the police investigate the disappearance of Amy, suspicion starts to grow that Nick might have killed his wife. Hearing the synopsis of the story, one can assume that this movie is not one of those make you smile and be happy kinds of movie. In movies with a dark, ominous tone, the score will help to drive the feelings and mood throughout the course of the viewing experience. If you are familiar with the works of David Fincher, you should know that in his las three movies he has worked exclusively with Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor and music producer Atticus Ross. The trio have made some incredible films, and the soundtracks have taken a gorgeously shot movie with an intriguing plot to the next level, adding another level of depth to the movies. Gone Girl is no exception; minimal is the best way to describe the feel of the soundtrack, and let me say that that is haunting. When I saw the movie I fell in love with the score, and wanted to go back and listen to it on its own. When the time came for me to go back and re-listen to the score, I was walking around campus with the soundtrack filling my ears. A word of advice, if you are a paranoid person, like me, to begin with, this is not the kind of music that you want to be playing as you walk around a place surrounded by thousands of people. At every second I thought someone was going to come up behind me and attack me. the soundtrack is chilling.



As I was just explaining, this soundtrack evokes the best of the movie. While listening to it, you feel lost, confused and paranoid. If you have not seen the movie or read the book, this would seem not to make any sense, but if you have, the soundtrack makes you relive the feelings of the characters of the movie. While watching the movie, you notice that it is almost completely devoid of color, with everything muted and desaturated. Listening to the soundtrack seems to bring that visual style to real life. You feel lost, hopeless and like you cannot seem to catch a break. Normally, like any sane person, I would not endorse something that would make you feel this way, but first off this is the feeling that Fincher and Reznor wanted to create, and they were beyond successful. I find myself re-listening to very few soundtracks, but this is one that I have already revisited three times, and it has quickly found its way in my rotation of study music. The score is the perfect background music and the synchronizers make it feel so cold and distant to the listener, that this is the perfect soundtrack for the movie that it was backing.



If you have seen the movie, read the book, like Fincher/ Reznor, then I really don’t know why you have not already picked up a copy of the soundtrack. But if you are not and are looking for something that will make you escape into a crime novel, then this soundtrack is the perfect partner to help you fulfill your fantasy. Gone Girl scored big at the box office, and the DVD/ Blu-Ray should be coming out in a few months, and I have a strong feeling Fincher, Affleck and Reznor may be walking home with some Golden men in February.