Eric Schackne

REVIEW: Troubled Coast – ‘Awake and Empty’

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Ever been caught in a riptide? That feeling like you’re slowly being flipped and churned around and around with no ability to escape your one way ticket to the center of the ocean?  Well, if drowning wasn’t the outcome, then that’s the feeling I got from Troubled Coast’s latest release on the musically-stacked Purenoise Records.  Remember that part of Indiana Jones(the temple of doom one) where the witch-doctor priest guy ripped out that other guy’s heart and then that witch doctor dude held up that beating heart as the peasant man died? Awake and Empty will do that same thing to you, but without the pain and eventual death.  Send a 911 text to Sean Connery and get your hat, whip, and monkey, because this album’s an adventure.

Percussion kicks it off, laying down a massive stompy beat with distorted sounds.  Arguably the lead singer, the screamer’s vocals are so achingly desperate.  You can’t help but see straight through him, and it’s that candid quality that is enamoring.  The combination of screaming and  clean singing by the equally-notewortthy(arguably the co-lead) singer provides a great hook for this opening track.  The big hits in the breakdown are almost orchestral with distorted guitars dancing with what could be strings and/or synths.  While this is a timid start, I’m definitely ready for some noise.

Already warmed up, they jump head first into “Winter,” a not-so-chill mover.  Gang vocals in the first minute make you feel like singing along and heading for the pit.  Overall, their vocal production feels fresh, and it’s not a typical scream or a typical clean voice.  They show you that they have the capability of epic theatrical moves, like you might hear in a Chiodos or Emarosa song; though they use it sparingly, keeping you locked in rhythm the whole time.

Bass and drums kick off the third track,  to be joined by hypnotic distorted guitars and Hot Water Music-esque vocals.  This has an anthemic feel, though it’s possibly the loudest track yet.  “1967,” a song that – to my surprise – isn’t about the ten-year anniversary of Indie getting caught by the Soviets, shows their range and ecclectic blend of influences.  Alternating between a hard rock verse and a screamo chorus, always upping the ante with each repeating part, this is one of my favorites so far.  The screamer’s vocals continue to reel me in, and I’m not sure I’ve ever been so convinced by an a-melodic singer.

Arguably the most ballad-y thus far, “Northwest” gives screaming a rest for a minute or two.  Man…that breakdown is killer and one of my favorite album moments.  This is followed up with an apply-named “Missoula_Big Sur.”  An odd country influence making it’s way into the mix is due to a folk-y violin decorating the beginning instrumental.  This one solidifies for me that Troubled Coast can really create one of the heaviest ballads I’ve ever heard; this gets gritty, and then beautiful…and then more beautiful still.

With the crying yell, “I think I’m losing hope tonight,” track seven, “Twenty” sprints through the finish line with one of the most gut-wrenching emotional lyrics.  This is followed by TC’s punk-iest tune, “Sister.”  This could have been a b-side off of an old Finch album.  Oh glorious noise.  “Signals” starts with guitars calling and answering riffs.  This album has been chock full of amazing licks by guitarists.  They are metal-infused, but very melodic and never distracting.     This track actually gives everyone their time in the spotlight, displaying exactly how talented each player in TC is.

Last track, here we go.  “Lonely States” starts out with a completely new feel, and it’s almost like an indie rock vibe with these wailing vocals.  I’m trusting they’ll take this as an opportunity to finish big, and it’s not necessarily there yet.  “I am alone, and you are alone, and this is the end.”  With those aching words, spoken so truthfully, I’m back to the eery opening chords of the first track, “Brother” and I feel like I just went on the craziest blimp ride, or some other Indiana Jones reference works there too.

Overall, I loved Awake and Empty by screamo powerhouse, Troubled Coast.  Thanks for the music.  I’d catch them live for sure, and a lot of the songs got me excited for those moments during the live shows.  I’ll be the guy in the brown stetson fedora regretting my decision to rent a Capuchin monkey.

TRACK LIST:

  1. Brother
  2. Winter
  3. Confidence
  4. 1967
  5. Northwest
  6. Missoula_Big Sur
  7. Twenty
  8. Sister
  9. Signal
  10. Lonely States

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