Crooked Coast Sophomore Release Dances with High Energy Fusion
By: S. Montgomery Houghton, July 24, 2013
Crooked Coast, an original dance, hip-hop and reggae-influenced indie rock band from Woods Hole, has released their sophomore album, "Thanks for the Memories."
The album comes out a year after the band's debut and self-titled collection. The first album had a raw, reggae vibe to it, while "Memories," with the addition of songwriter John MacNamara, has brought the band a fuller sound and a new style, what the band calls dance rock. The 13-track album retains the signature reggae swagger, but has infused a new, high-energy vibe that singer and guitarist Luke Vose said has rubbed off from their live performances in bars and clubs.
"Dance The Night Away," the third track on the album, is a testament to this statement. A thumping bass drum beat and reggae riff keep the song moving forward and it climaxes with a crashing, grunge-influenced break-down. While the song has some definite dance tendencies in that it is high energy, the song is without question a rock & roll track, with influences from the likes of both the Strokes and Daft Punk.
The chorus to "Dance," with Mr. Vose repeating "dance the night away," originally comes off as a cliché line, but the lyrics throughout the rest of the song are about a concertgoer who feels alone in the crowd. The track, as well as much of the album, features lyrics that are not the typical dance or rock lyrics but offer engaging stories and themes, a carryover from the self-titled "Crooked Coast" album.
"Down for the Count," "Loose Tooth" and "Get Yourself a Gun" are standouts on the album that, like "Dance the Night Away," feature the signature Crooked Coast ska and reggae groove that demands hip-shaking and body-moving.
Not all the tracks have this tendency, including "Burnout," a slower number that has a nostalgic feel to it; or "Thunder and Lightning" that is influenced by heavy metal.
The band's knack for catchy choruses is evident on this album. On "Loose Tooth" and "Ritalin," the whole band combines for powerful choruses that become welcoming moments in the album.
While the band originated in the summer of 2011, it did not come into its current lineup of musicians until last year. The band started after a last-minute gig at Quick's Hole. With no practice, the gig went surprisingly well, so it turned into a weekly summer concert. Mr. Vose, sang and played guitar, Ben Elder was on bass and Charles Parker Walton was on drums. The gig eventually inspired the band to record their first full length, which would be produced and engineered by Mr. MacNamara in his studio. As Mr. Vose said, "as soon as John was recording, he became a part of the band." Mr. MacNamara, with his engineering ability and second guitar, has filled out the band's sound for the new album, "Memories."
All of the members in the band have been involved in the Woods Hole and Falmouth music scenes from a young age. Bassist Mr. Elder and Mr. MacNamara both performed in a local band called '86, which started in 1999. Mr. Elder has played bass in bands since then.
Mr. MacNamara, as well as drumming for '86, played trumpet in the Falmouth High School Jazz Band; he would eventually receive a scholarship to study the trumpet at Berklee College of Music. He also sang chorus at the high school and currently owns a recording studio in Falmouth.
Mr. Vose was involved with hip-hop music in high school and, in his early 20s, after an open mic at Pie in the Sky in Woods Hole, started The Firewater Band, a rock and reggae-influenced band that eventually turned into Luke James & the Locksteadies. After a couple other projects in Boston, Mr. Vose thought he was done with music until the impromptu gig at Quick's Hole put together by Mr. Elder.
Mr. Walton had played drums throughout high school, where he marched in a professional drum line. He said the group was hard work and took the spirit out of the music for him with 10-hour-a-day practices and tours. He said that playing in Crooked Coast has sparked his joy for the instrument again. "I fell in love with the drums again and that is fire," he said.
The group, since they formed as a four-piece band, has toured the East Coast, toured the Caribbean, opened for national acts like Barrington Levy, Afroman, and Everlast, and played numerous shows on the college tour route. They play every Friday night at the Landfall during the summer starting at 10 and more often than not there is a line of people around the block waiting to enter.
"This is some of the best stuff I have put out to the world," said Mr. MacNamara in regard to "Thanks for the Memories." "Music is all about personalities and the stories behind each song. The personalities from each of us come out on this album."