Looking up: Sarah Barthel and Joshua
Carter of Charlie Everywhere.
Everywhere make music that’s hard to define, but easy
seem to happen pretty quickly for Charlie Everywhere.
The electro-pop duo got their first show—a gig last year
at King’s Tavern in Saratoga Springs—before they even
had the songs to fill a set. “Sub-Bombin asked us to play,”
explains vocalist/keyboardist Sarah Barthel, referring
to a local collective of DJs, hip-hop artists and electro-rockers
that now includes Charlie Everywhere on its roster. “We
had about three weeks.”
Barthel and partner Joshua Carter (vocals, guitar, percussion)
wrote the songs for their set-list in a hurry, but the
well-attended King’s Tavern gig was a success. Since then,
word-of-mouth and exposure on social-networking Web sites
have contributed to a growing buzz about the duo. Metroland
named the pair Best New Band in a recent issue, and record
labels are expressing interest. “We’ve been talking to
some different labels,” says Carter. “We’re playing the
waiting game. We’re excited. ”
The song “Mouthful of Diamonds,” a download on the band’s
MySpace page, surely generated some of the attention:
The ridiculously catchy tune features Barthel’s breathy
vocals and an addictive melody that rides over droning
keyboard and a glitchy beat. It’s a fresh sound, one that
pairs a dance-worthy beat with airy vocals in the vein
of indie-pop groups like Architecture in Helsinki, Stereolab
and St. Etienne: groups not afraid to experiment, but
not alien to a groove either.
get a lot of kids who like hip-hop at our shows,” explains
Carter. “I don’t even know what kind of sound we have,
but you can definitely bop your head to it.” Originally
a drummer, Carter spends most of his time playing guitar
onstage, but the band also incorporates live looping and
sampling. “I do a lot of recording of my own drums and
cut it up,” he says.
Their sound combines elements of electronica, psychedelic
rock and ’90s shoe-gazing indie; Carter and Barthel cite
artists like Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine and David Bowie
as inspirations, along with underground hip-hop artists
like Madlib, J. Dilla and the Pharcyde. “When we first
started working together, we were trying to figure out
what we wanted to focus on because we have so many different
influences. Then we said, ‘Fuck it,’ let’s do it all,’
” says Barthel.
want to put together a collage of sound—things that don’t
necessarily go together,” adds Carter.
fascinated with different textures,” Barthel says.
But they resist the easy categorization of their music,
lamenting that they often get called “trip hop,” an outdated
label that stuck to bands like Portishead in the ’90s,
groups who trafficked in drum-machine beats, ethereal
vocals and droning samples. “It’s not that we dislike
them. We’re just more in the ‘now’ of that category,”
says Carter, before settling on “street-beat psych-pop”
as a more apt description of their sound.
always cool when someone says, ‘I’ve never heard anything
like you before,” adds Barthel.
can fit into any bill, except maybe death metal,” says
Carter, after the conversation turns to how the band could
play with a variety of different acts, from DJs to hip-hop
artists to indie rockers. “We have a diverse enough sound.
You can dance if you want to, or stand there like a hipster
with arms crossed. We try to be tasteful. I think it would
sound pretty stupid if we rhymed over our music.”
Like their sound, the band’s name remains relatively undefined.
Although Barthel once owned a 20-pound cat named Charlie,
that wasn’t the direct point of reference when the pair
named the band. “We have sort of an inside joke,” Carter
says. “Some people think it’s a Vietnam reference, or
a drug reference. We like that. We leave it up to people’s
Although Charlie Everywhere have only been together for
a relatively short period of time, Carter and Barthel
have actually known each other for years. From their top-floor
apartment looking out on downtown Saratoga Springs, the
pair reminisces about their junior-high-era friendship,
when they were both students in Greenwich, a small town
to the east of Saratoga Springs. “We both grew up there.
We’ve been great friends since ninth grade. Little awkward
Sarah and little awkward Josh hanging out together,” Barthel
After high school, Barthel went away to college in Burlington,
Vt., to study visual arts, and Carter moved to New York
City to play in the band Grand Habit with his older brother
John. But both eventually ended up back in the Capital
Region. “I knew what I wanted to do creatively,” Carter
says. “I had started working on ideas for Charlie Everywhere.
Then she and I teamed up. She has a great voice.”
been singing my whole life,” says Barthel, describing
a background in musical theater. “But I never thought
I would act [on it]. Honestly I think it was kind of fate
that we got back together and started the band. We’re
committed to keeping this going for 40 to 50 more years.”
The pair can’t make loud music in their fourth-floor Saratoga
Springs walkup, so they spend much of their time out at
Carter’s parents’ place in Easton, a hamlet of rolling
hills and farm fields just east of the Hudson River, where
a converted barn/garage doubles as a practice space and
recording studio (dubbed Ratland Studios after a rat population
that plagued the barn until Carter’s cats dispatched the
The rural location has its advantages. “It’s very quiet
out there. It’s inspiring,” says Barthel. “We love nature.”
They also get some valuable parental feedback from time
dad will come into the garage and say, ‘Josh, I really
like this song,’ ” jokes Carter, feigning a low voice.
“ ‘Play ‘Mouthful of Diamonds’ for me.’ ”
The pair self-recorded their upcoming debut release at
the barn-studio, a full-length scheduled for release in
the fall by Sub-Bombin Records, available through online
retailers and local shops like Last Vestige. If all goes
well, a yet-to-be-named larger record label may re-release
the album at some point in the future. “We’re extremely
satisfied with our album,” Barthel says. It is a bewitching
recording, full of sophisticated late-night sounds, one
that seems more likely to have come out of London or another
urban location than rural upstate New York.
country bumpkins,” quips Carter. “We’re making country
music for city people.”
Everywhere will perform at the Official Unofficial Troy
Night Out Afterparty at Revolution Hall (425 River St.,
Troy) this Friday (Aug. 29) at 9 PM. For more information,
call the club at 274-0553 or visit charlieeverywhere.com/charlie.