Troubled Coast

Awake And Empty

Written by: AP on 24/12/2012 15:10:39

Just over one year ago, Troubled Coast pressed out a rather disappointing debut mini-album in "Letters" - yet one that nonetheless painted the East Bay, CA based band with promise. It is always satisfying as a critic to find that some of the weaknesses you identified in a band's music have been noted and improved on, and that is exactly the case on this first full-length album, "Awake and Empty". Quite simply, it provides the deluge of emotion I called upon on "Letters", just as the band now makes considerably more noise when attempting to whip up the sense of urgency that was hinted at on that album, but never quite achieved.

The sound that Troubled Coast have effected on this release is one that bears a certain resemblance to the early work of Thursday; a harrowing maelstrom of ringing guitars, desperately wailing vocals and melancholic choruses best exemplified by the opening track, "Brother". It, and the following "Winter" have the characteristics of an apostrophe directed at an audience (in this case us, the listeners) by an anguished protagonist striving for clarity of mind. As such the album subscribes to the storytelling style that similar bands like La Dispute and Pianos Become the Teeth also employ, resulting in a deep and hugely satisfying lyrical universe. But as track three, "Confidence", shows, Troubled Coast have more to offer than simply the by now common diatribes that the wave movement has popularized. Combining a much more positive, forward-looking vibe with energetic riffs and rhythms, this standout track is not the archetypical skramz piece; rather, it is a much needed change of pace and an injection of optimism into an otherwise punishing rollercoaster of emotions.

Still, as the tracks pass by, one is plagued by the feeling that Troubled Coast aren't able to replicate the suffocating wall of discomfort that makes the bands mentioned in the previous paragraph such a thrilling listen. Songs like "Northwest" and "Sister" have their moments, but their simplicity (probably owing to the band's hardcore roots) proves their greatest pitfall; as does the overall similarity between most of the songs on offer here. The standout moments (the three mentioned before, as well as the brooding "Missoula / Big Sur" and the furious "Signals") are strong enough to warrant this album a much better grade than its predecessor, but still, I feeel, some work is needed before Troubled Coast can call themselves equal to their most successful peers.

Download: Brother, Winter, Confidence, Missoula / Big Sur, Signals
For the fans of: Foxxes, Pianos Become the Teeth, early Thursday
Listen: Facebook

Release date 09.10.2012
Pure Noise Records

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