• By: Owen Maxwell

Album Reviews: March 2, 2020

Cold Beat – Mother (San Francisco, California)

Riding the lines of dance and riff rock with a touch of New Order, Cold Beat keep a constantly dark but bouncy energy. With a little more experimentation this time around, the band's music is still as soulful and fun, but now it has a kind distinct punch to stand out on every little break. From its opening little drips of electronics "Prism" is a wondrous journey of a listen, and one that only suffers from perhaps relying too much on its core progressions to carry an entire song. This newfound range of  tones provides angular synths to play against the darkness on "Gloves," and a lot of room for the sonic palette to compliment every end of itself. Though this range of sonics works best as a cohesive unit, like the Cocteau Twins-sounding "Double Sided Mirror" which hits every chorus like a peek at heaven. Ultimately Cold Beat sound more like they're getting new bearings this time, so by the time you hear "Crimes" it feels like they're just starting to get a hold of where they want to go again.

Captain Braveman – Rosie the Wolf  (Ottawa)

With their range of gear, Captain Braveman crafts a primitive throwback record to 90s EDM, whether that was the intention or not. Blending tones of Propellerheads and The Chemical Brothers, this record is a fun exploration of a darker world within great beats. "Rosie Has an Anxious Five Minute" sets things off on a grimy and often unnerving listen, with just enough shuffle to keep the song moving. But there's a directional might to "Rosie Dreams of Finding Freedom" that refines all this into a much more groovy listen and one that slaps with the might LCD Soundsystem's "Yeah" minus some obvious rock and pop hooks. Things shift right to the club floor on "Rosie Gets an Unexpected Meal," and there's a sense of worry in every infectious boom of bass that really lets the track breathe as a fearsome banger. Amidst the electronic currents of the rest of the album, "Rosie the Wolf Will Have Her Day" loosens up on the melody and creates a track that feels as much like an anthem as it does a dance track.

Soccer Mommy – Color Theory (Nashville, Tennessee)

Sophia Allison crafts a sound on her new album that always feels grounded while simultaneously in the stars. This elevated kind of reality makes every emotion on Color Theory feel rich and hit you with a wallop that's too intense to ignore. Every background guitar can give you goose bumps on "Bloodstream" as Allison lets her slow-burning rock ballad sink in enough that the accents feel like a shock. Though she holds this subtle approach, "Night Swimming" immerses you in reverb like water and lets the acoustic ring all around you feel like an intimate space the two of you are sharing. While "Yellow is the Color of Her Eyes" could be too self-indulgent, it's  a romantic dreamscape of endlessly lush hooks that will ultimately be seen as Allison's masterpiece on the record. "Lucy" drenches itself in effects to go completely beyond acoustically and create a track that feels like Melody's Echo Chamber with a deranged indie twist.

The Lackeys – Oh No! EP (Ottawa)

There's a Motorhead-like fury listening to The Lackey's rip right into their record without any hesitation. With distortion roaring and the drums ringing loud and clear "Why Don't You Get It" has an instantly catchy quality that is easy to sing along to on every chorus. The Lackeys do a great job of filling out all their stops and breakdowns here however to make the record feel spontaneous and much more out of control. "Home" never settles down for a second, with the sense of tempo feeling like it's always ramping up every second. Though they get abrasively dense on "Talking Out Loud" all the ferocious energy they let loose here more than lets you get into the riffs they throw out.

Best Coast – Always Tomorrow (Los Angeles)

Best Coast went from nostalgic California-pop to sunny indie and lately has stayed around grinding reverb-rock. While there are a couple hints of more ambitious writing in this latest effort, the duo seem to be hoping to have some more ambitious epiphany by running through arena rock for the time being. This leaves the fast and stomping drive of "Different Light" a tad too familiar, as it feels like we heard this last time Best Coast dropped tracks. However the more drum-heavy focus and relentless shredding of "Graceless Kids" is a welcome shift from the band, and one that really keeps things aggressive in an often restrained record. Equally, Best Coast tap into their romantic edge with power on "True," and let their mastery of reverb turn guitars into a range of sounds to colour their energy. And the utter weight of all the effects that come down on "Used to Be" add a lot to its dissatisfied look back.