Slow Coda – Slow Coda – Album Review
I love those rare times where I push play on a record and I’m like, ‘fuck yeah – this is exactly the kind of music I’m in the mood for, right now’ – which is exactly what happened when I started listening to Slow Coda’s brand-new self-titled album and “World Of Motion” began to shimmer on outta my speakers.
No joke…it’s been a…hmm…rough run of late for my own personal taste if you have a look through our pages here, no disrespect to those out there doin’ what ya love, I’ve just had a savage absence of what my own personal jam really is – and this album from Slow Coda here? This is my jam, 100%. The restorative properties of exceptional music are straight up fuel for the soul I tell ya – “there’s a spark you can’t see with your eye” perhaps, but you can sure as hell hear it in a band like these guys have. “World Of Motion” wasn’t just an awesome introduction though – it would go on to remain one of my favorite cuts on an album that’s truly loaded from start to finish with fantastic material. You could cite Canadian bands in comparison like Limblifter or The Doughboys…or on a more well-known scale, a cut like “World Of Motion” has that ethereal Alt/Pop addictiveness you’d find in The Temper Trap. The bottom line is, you can hear all the right ingredients at work here – this is music that stands out, and for all the right reasons; from unique lyricism, to stellar vocals, and outstanding instrumentation swirling in this hazy groove they’ve got goin’ on – the hooks are bouncing outta your speakers from every possible angle, and I’m absolutely lovin’ it. That rumble of the guitars & bass alone are damn near worth the price of admission when combined with the impeccable vocal melody on top…there’s a specialness you can hear in Slow Coda, and they put that out there instantly with the kickass performance on “World Of Motion.”
“Gap Year” answers the question of what would happen if Alt/Pop vibes of The Virgins possessed the songwriting spirit & hazy style of Julian Casablancas…you know, in case anyone out there was wondering about that…or maybe what it would sound like if Cigarettes After Sex merged with The Cure at their least moody & Xanax-happy. There’s not a damn band I’ve listed there in comparison that doesn’t live on my playlist – so take a wild guess as to how I really feel about Slow Coda will ya? I’m hooked in this band beyond repair already, and I’ve only got about a week’s worth of listening or so under my belt at this point in time. I absolutely love the spark in the guitars from Nicholas on this cut, and Tavis is a straight-up master of the mic – this guy slides right into these songs as smooth as smooth can be. I’m all about this though…absolutely everything from performance to production – they might get some pushback from a few folks on the dustier sound some of these songs have, but if you ask me, everything I’m hearing is intentional. Could Slow Coda have polished up a few more of these songs like “Gap Year” to a ridiculously polished sparkle & shine? Perhaps. And perhaps they’d kill every ounce of the organic magic that makes their music so spirited & inspired to listen to…so alive. It’s not nearly the case of pick your poison that some might think it is – it’s about doing the right thing for the sound, the songs, and the bands & artists cranking it all out – the hazier mix that runs through the bones of this record is a perfect match for the music that Slow Coda is making & anyone that tells you otherwise, is just wrong. From texture to tone, this band is capable of creating sensory sound & songs you can feel – and that’s the result of knowing exactly what they wanted to put out there with this debut & the Slow Coda vibe.
So…I’ll be as real with ya as I always am here – I think “Spun” has got an extremely tough spot in the lineup nestled in between the vibrant sound of “Gap Year” and the addictive melodic hooks that come out quickly on “Levittown” afterwards. My gut tells me it’s gonna take the folks out there a spin or two to realize & recognize this cut “Spun” is just as rad as the rest are, and might even have the lyrical advantage on many when it comes right down to it. As quickly as it moves, it’s just a lot more of a low-key song – so low-key in fact, that in the first couple spins I had taken through this self-titled record, I was naturally assuming it was a second-half of “Gap Year” right beforehand, because it’s that fluid of a transition. I can guarantee ya this though – after you’ve jammed this record as much as I have, the hypnotic & mesmerizing vibe they create on this cut and all the glory of its beautifully dusty hooks will more than have you just as stoked about this song as any other in the lineup, if not downright seeking it out. There are…hmmm…three drummers fillin’ it all in on this record, and I’m not entirely sure who is where & doin’ what – but shout-outs to them all – Johnny Skwirut (Drums), Jonathan Thompson (Drums), and Eric Gorman (Auxiliary Percussion) – and extra fist-bump to whomever it is kicking not just some, but ALL of the ass from the throne on “Spun” – there’s a lot I love about this track, clearly – but they might very well be lost without the stellar beat this song comes along with and how it contributes.
Do Tavis and Nicholas know what they REALLY have here? How in the heck has it been SIX YEARS since their last EP if this is the kind of incredible music they’re capable of making – and how is this self-titled 2021 release their heckin’ debut full-length record nearly ten years into their existence? No joke – the moment “Levittown” started up…I mean…I just kinda had to sit back and marvel at what these two are capable of and wonder how on earth they’ve managed to elude me until now – I LOVE what I’m hearing in this band, full-stop. What’s equally impressive is their straight-up smarts & the instincts they have for the music they’re making. For example – do I WANT another like, I dunno, ten minutes worth of “Levittown?” I mean…YES…YES I DO IN FACT AND THANKS FOR ASKING. But I ain’t gonna get it, unless I hit the ol’ repeat button – “Levittown” is only 2:37 in length, and there’s not an ounce of wasted time. I wrote a review the other day on a lovely chap who went on wayyyyyyyy too long with his song, and while he had some decent ideas in there, by the end he essentially went on to completely drive those hooks he had straight into the ground with a high degree of repetition. This is the opposite effect. “Levittown” is the kind of song that absolutely has you craving more of its shining sound…it’s a really solid cut and a gem that offers a different dimension of their vibe once again – it’s really not all that far removed from songs you’d hear on early R.E.M. records, which again, is obviously 100% perfect for me. Big steady hits on the drums, killer grooves in the bass-lines, guitars that chime in for that extra layer of sparkle, keyboards that fill in the atmosphere brilliantly, and effect-laden vocals that are just as captivating for the cleverness of the sound generated, as they are for the melody that Tavis has found. But this is key y’all…you wanna give us those reasons to repeat…and rather than giving us two-song’s worth of one song like the scenario I was tellin’ ya about from earlier this week, Slow Coda wisely keeps the music on this record hovering at the point where every single cut supplies a reason to return to it. Just long enough to give you everything you wanna hear, and just short enough to make you damn well NEED these cuts after they’re over. I wonder if Slow Coda realizes by now that I like this album a lil’ bit?
Something like “Mall Walker” makes me think of how I’ve been reminded of Limblifter several times throughout what I’ve heard to this point with the similar Alt-Pop-weirdness & wonderful stuff I’ve been listening to from Slow Coda here…and how this song wasn’t quite that – it was close, but not quite the same. This ended up reminding me more of the spirited sound of Limblifter-dude’s (Ryan Dahle) other project with the guy from Hot Hot Heat (Steve Bays) singing & adding keys, and Hawksley Workman crushin’ it on drums, called Mounties – Slow Coda, very much has that same colorful spirit and unique vibe, albeit more melodically inclined over here on this record, and arguably a bit more refined…which makes sense given that I’ve heard rumors that Mounties rock their shit live in the studio one-take style. This is IT though y’all…Slow Coda has proven track after track they’re completely my jam after these first five cuts and signed, sealed, delivered – I’m theirs! Great combination of the keyboards added in by Tavis & Nicholas here…and again, shout-out to a whole selection of smart drumming choices in bringing in Johnny, Jonathan, and Eric into the fold here for this debut album…beat-for-beat, whoever’s been on the kit has been rock-steady reliable the entire way through. “Mall Walker” possesses the real spirit of Indie/College-Rock with a hint of the ol’ Post-Punk vibe they incorporate so cleverly into their sound. You will find no substantial complaints from me about any of this – by the time I got to “Mall Walker” I was fully realizing I was quite likely listening to what we easily be one of my favorite records of the year. Everything just sounds so impeccably well-suited to them from start to finish, it’s relentlessly impressive.
These are just really high quality ideas and songs – what other conclusion can be drawn to? I listen to “Waking Dream” and I’m loving life all over again…each one of these tunes has had me falling in love with the record again, track-by-track, helplessly – they’re in a really rad & mesmerizing gear on this cut. Tavis has such an impressively expressive voice that’s got whatever X-factor quality to it that I’m helplessly addicted to…I ain’t gonna lie to ya, half of the magic is right there in the tone of voice & the way he sings, but so much of the pull towards his voice is the result of extremely well-suited songwriting and the right vibes as a vehicle for him to succeed. Do I expect everyone out there to feel the same way that I do? Heck no! That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t – I mean, if you don’t feel the same way I do about Slow Coda, it’s clear we can’t be friends anymore, but that’s cool, you do you, I’ll do me, and I’ll be over here, turning this record right the fuck up to the rafters to enjoy every sweet solitary morsel of music they’ve got on this self-titled masterpiece. I might have given them shit for not getting this debut record out there earlier, given how long they’ve technically been around for…but…I mean…I am gonna be the last guy to argue against audible perfection – if however long it took was however long it takes to achieve the pure gold I’m hearing here on this record, so fucking be it. For real though…those of you out there that know your Canadian-based tunes…tell me that a track like “Waking Dream” couldn’t have fit right onto a Limblifter record like In & Out and the brilliantly mesmerizing slow-jams you can find there? Not a single solitary second of “Waking Dream” is out of place…the hooks are supremely memorable – I think they’ve got a slower cut here that’s actually going to make a significant impact on the masses listening. There’s something soothing about the vibe of this song, especially in the main chorus hooks & even despite how the lyricism digs into harsher emotional terrain…call it the effect of sincerity, and give Tavis plenty of credit for that…tapping right into the moment like he has here leads “Waking Dream” to the strong connection it generates…he sings “I wanted something more” – and believe me, you FEEL it.
By the time I got to “Waterbed” I honestly just wanted to shout out my excitement about this record from the freakin’ mountaintops down into the valleys below – what on earth is not to love here? Slow Coda is completely my jam, and in hearing this self-titled record, even on that first spin, it was more than apparent to me by the time I reached “Waterbed” that I was listening to an album that would go on to be part of the soundtrack of my own life personally, permanently. Because I can promise ya this – I don’t honestly think I’m ever gonna get tired of hearing what I’m hearing on this album – this is the kind of music that I get out of bed, hoping to find, every single day of my life, and so rarely ever do. There are just so many smart choices made, my brain is scrambling just trying to keep up to them – listen to the way they’ve staged the guitars to come through “Waterbed” and the impact that clever production & ideas truly make will ya? Like – look at this…LOOK…AT…THIS: “You burn the candle at both ends, spilling beer on the Ouija board, heavy metal magazines, and all the records on the floor. You’ve got the chords to the perfect song, pen and paper in your hands, in the darkest basement room with the ghosts of better bands.” And trust me when I say, to see it is one thing, to hear it all in action is entirely another – Slow Coda has tangibly unique ideas, that perfect hint of strangeness, a master’s grip on what makes melody connect, and truly brilliant vocals & musicianship – I fail to understand what anyone else could want other than exactly what they’re hearing from this band. As far as singles go – I think I’m actually inclined to say that this is THE choice to make – and I’m not sure there’s even an argument to be made otherwise if I’m being honest with ya. There’s a metric ton of what appeals to me personally on this album – I think at this point I’ve made that plenty clear – but in terms of universal vibes that’ll connect to just about every human being on the planet, “Waterbed” has the illuminant brightness & inspired spark in the melody from the music to the vocals that people will never stop lovin.’
The main hooks of “Nuclear Saturday” are straight-up genius…that ain’t opinion, that’s facts y’all, you dig? There’s a good chance they’ve actually got the most accessible moment of their entire record right here…when you hear’em and you get to the endearing bend of melody they create, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about, I promise ya. I’m still going with “Waterbed” as the inarguable choice as to what might move the masses out there from beginning to end – but if we’re talking about singular highlight moments that the people will remember, “Nuclear Saturday” might have the finest example on this self-titled record out of’em all. I also think you gotta give this band some real credit for the successfully hybrid sound they continually create – a track like “Nuclear Saturday” has ties that would take them right to the roots of the 80s in some ways, but yet they still sound perfectly fresh for the right here & now too? And there are others you can point towards on this record with melodic cores that would take them even further back into the golden era of music when it comes right down to it as well – but there’s not a single song you’ll hear on this album that doesn’t sound like it wouldn’t thrive within the Indie circuit right now either. While I’ll readily concede that there’s an artistic depth to the verses in this cut that’ll likely take longer to catch on with listeners out there by comparison to how immediately they’ll respond to & love the chorus of “Nuclear Saturday” – as I like to remind y’all frequently, sometimes a single moment can make an entire song for a great many people out there listening. The degree of hook & pull that the chorus of this cut has is quite likely to win over anyone trying their level best to resist it – plus like, c’mon now…that smooth-ass breakdown just prior to two-minute mark & before the run through the hooks once more for the finale? Chef’s kiss y’all…these guys put all the right details in here.
For real…listening to “Melt Away,” I couldn’t help but come back to the fact that it’s like I’m hearing The Virgins & Limblifter vibes from every single one of these cuts – could it even be possible that they were an influence on this LA-based band? I mean…it seems hella unlikely with The Virgins being based outta New York and Limblifter from way up here in Canada…but c’mon y’all – if there are any of you out there lucky enough to be listening to both bands, you’ll find that what Slow Coda is doing, is giving you the best of both those worlds of sound on one spectacular dose on this self-titled record. I’ll admit, I had a feeling I was in for something I was gonna love when it all started and “World Of Motion” kicked off – but I had no idea how addicted I was truly going to be to everything I’ve heard over time…at least at first. I fuckin’ get it now I’ll tell ya that. I’m like…fiendin’ for this album daily and…like, if I don’t get in a good listen to it, I’m not just gonna be cranky, I’m gonna be a downright bitch about it and demand I get my way. I probably should have put this review out a week ago, but with the world of a music-reviewer being so typically made of having a listen or three & then onto the next forever, I wanted to spend every single second I could with Slow Coda’s self-titled debut before anything else could compete for my time. Because I sure as hell am NOT gonna stop listening now that I’ve started, no matter how much other music ends up getting loaded onto my playlist – Slow Coda have proven that this long-awaited & highly-anticipated full-length record was absolutely worth waiting for. There’s an argument to be made that post-“Nuclear Saturday” the hooks might not quite reach the heights you’ll find there over the course of the final three tracks beginning with “Melt Away” – but in terms of staying dialed in to their sound & style & continuing to supply your speakers with the same quality they came in with, they never relent.
I think the closest Slow Coda had me to being on the fence about any one song was probably “Pink Noise” – but truly, at this point, it’s not on me – it’s entirely on them for creating such a bulletproof set of songs I can’t get enough of…we’re all bound to have our favorites, that’s the nature of the game. When I get to the main hooks of the chorus on “Pink Noise,” I end up in that same boat that many of you would be in on “Nuclear Saturday” not too long beforehand…this is that moment that completely makes the song for me. Don’t get it twisted though – I’m not even remotely suggesting I don’t like what I hear from start to finish, because I truly do…and I’d readily acknowledge that the magic of the chorus really needs that seamless transition that it has from the verse into its mellow main hooks – that’s every bit as key as what follows. Ultimately, what I’m tellin’ ya is that if “Pink Noise” is as close as I came to questioning anything on this record at all, obviously here at track ten, that should tell y’all something about how solid & reliable this set of songs & this band truly are – because I’m not turning this track off either – not by any stretch of the imagination. It might not be my favorite in the lineup and I’m willing to acknowledge that – but so freakin’ what? It’s still a damn great song, and were it not for a set-list that’s stockpiled with’em from the moment this self-titled record started, no one would notice at all – in fact, hell, I’d go as far as to say that on just about any other album out there, “Pink Noise” would be an A-side without question. Here, purely as a result of what THEY have done, I’m forced to acknowledge that…while it’s not a B-side, “Pink Noise” might very well appeal to .0001% less of you out there, sorry. I’ve still been singing along with it loud & proud over here no problemo – I’ve got love for “Pink Noise,” much in fact – I was basically amazed every time Tavis sang the simple hook of “1998” within the chorus, it’s one of those really short & sweet moments that becomes so much more effective than you’d think.
I might even ultimately be just a little more partial to “Pink Noise” because of that pivotal chorus hook than I was towards the final cut “Totally Gone,” though I felt like this last track really provided a conclusive ending that genuinely fit. Like I’ve said a whole bunch of times I’m sure, a great record should play just like a great speech is spoken…giving you that audible cue of when everything is about to come to an end…and when it’s done right like this album has been, you just wanna stand up & cheer for it just as much. “Totally Gone” gives you a friendly & warm rip through the brightness of their Alt/Indie vibes one last time, while treading through the mixed emotional terrain & internal battles that you’ve experienced throughout the record so cleverly in contrast. It’s got one of those choruses that just sounds like such a sweet release to play…uplifting vibes & energy, and lyrics that are highly grounded – and when Slow Coda kicks into the instrumental break around the two-minute mark, it’s pure magic once again, bursting at the seams with texture & tone that radiates from your speakers before they surge back into the hooks and finish off the record with this final blast of all-out atmospheric excellence.
I don’t think I’ve ever been so sad to move onto the next record in my years here at sleepingbagstudios, or at the very least, not since hearing School Friends album Coma back in 2015…that affected me in a similarly addictive way for sure. I will…because that’s what I do…but if you think I ain’t coming back to this album daily for the next month straight and likely to the end of the year…and then you know, the next year & the year after that – ya might just be underestimating how much I truly love everything I’ve heard throughout Slow Coda…this band should be extraordinarily proud of what they’ve accomplished.
Find out more about Slow Coda and listen to their self-titled debut by following this magical multi-link right here: https://linktr.ee/slowcoda
And that’s not a suggestion – that’s an order dammit! You’d only be doing yourselves a disservice by not following this band and every move they ever make with their music from here on in for the rest of time, straight up.
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