The Carsitters : Born to Stay
by Matthue Roth
Noa Margalit, the lead singer of Israeli rock band the Carsitters, has a husky, wry voice, both excitable and wise, that wouldn’t sound out of place singing Bruce Springsteen, whose song “Born to Run” inspires the Carsitters’ debut e.p., Born to Stay. “Born to Run,” one of the most expressive American songs written in the past fifty years—disagree with me and I’ll punch you—is a song that’s a musician’s theme song, a song that could also serve as a metaphor for Jewish existence: it’s about being lost, looking for a Greater Good, in love with the idea of being in love, and living in Jersey.
Margalit and her band are informed by life in Israel, but, really, the effect is often the same. At once nostalgic (fine, you can say “retro” if you want) and up-to-the-minute, the songs on Stay owe a lot to Springsteen’s brand of ’80s rock (a compliment, I swear) and early-90s grunge without giving up this particular sense of timelessness that marks the best rock music. And it is rock music: Margalit’s vocals conjure an image of a woman on stage bent over her guitar, shaking it in agony until every last surge of a note pours out to the floor.
“Take You” is that kind of song that could serve as either a slow-dance song or a seducing song, one of those ones in a smoke-encrusted bar where you’re the only two people in there under the age of fifty, and grinding to whatever’s on the radio—that is, until you start listening to the lyrics, and it becomes a song about being stuck in a dead-end rut and trying to bust out.
Yoav Rosenthal’s guitar is at once rocking and restrained: he knows how to float through a melody, laying down the groundwork and ripping it up. The pop of “All Eyes on Me” opens the album, and the no-holds-barred guitar-solo-a-second alternates with Margalit’s raw voice over drums on the closing “My Life Story.” Both songs are deeply personal, but in those lost and wonting lyrics, Margalit is drawing a picture on several different levels: to be an artist, to be an Israeli, to be human.