Woods Hole's Crooked Coast Releases Debut Album
By: Sam Houghton, July 27, 2012
ANTHONY DiSPEZIO - Crooked Coast performs on a floating stage off of Woods Hole. The band is made up of Falmouth natives Luke Vose, Ben Elder, Charles Parker Walton and John McNamara.
Crooked Coast, a rock band from Woods Hole with reggae and hip-hop persuasions, will release its debut self-titled album with a performance at Quick’s Hole on Saturday, July 28.
Despite the band’s humble origins, it is an album with some serious swagger.
Saturday, July 28 * 6 PM to sunset
Copies of the self-titled album will be sold at the event for $5 along with other band paraphernalia.
Frontman Luke James Vose wrote the lyrics and played guitar for the recordings; Ben Elder played bass and Charles Parker Walton played drums. John McNamara, owner of the Falmouth recording studio Kid Charlemagne Records, served as sound engineer and played various instruments on a number of tracks. Each member wrote his own parts on the majority of the album.
Vose’s lyrics are poignant with uninhibited flow, with a unique singing style influenced by hip-hop freestyling. Stanzas like She used to be so beautiful/ ’til the/ hard booze, fast food, pharmaceuticals … She used to sing a sweeter song/ now she can’t stand the silence/ goes to sleep with the TV on, on the track “Bottom Line” hint at a songwriter with a penchant for poetry.
Like many of the songs on Crooked Coast, “Bottom Line” came to Vose while in the aftermath of a particularly social weekend: on the car ride home, he made up the verse while singing to his girlfriend.
“I was just fooling around, and the line came out and I thought, ‘Well, that sounds good,’ ” Vose said. “So, I wrote the rest of the song around it.”
Cape Cod blues
The recurring themes on the album, similar to “Bottom Line,” tell of the struggle and hardships in the search for freedom. Perhaps the strongest number on the album, “Rumrunner’s Prayer”—a slower and cryptic narrative of a rumrunner during the days of Prohibition—features a chorus with the lines: Hot summers/ Young lovers/ Just trying to find a place we could be free.
The lyrics exemplify the album’s themes: tales of the not-so-typical occupational folk, working behind the scenes of beach communities and their struggle to find happiness. In “Rumrunner’s Prayer,” the hero is killed in the end.
On “Saturday Night,” Vose uses vivid imagery to evoke the boredom and despair of life in a seasonal beach community: two buddies drinking in a cemetery on a dull Saturday night with no one around. The song was based on a similar moment the singer and his brother had during a night of quiet revelry.
While much of the material does not reek of optimism, Vose’s lyrics suggest that freedom is found in life’s simpler moments. Songs like “Heaven Tonight (Hell Below)” and “Nights Like These” offer hope for the young socialites living in vacation towns.
There are some swell times to be had, which seem to be Crooked Coast’s answer to the problems they pose throughout the album.
Elder and Walton hold down a romping rhythm section, with bass and drums that seamlessly complement each other.
The bass line on “Saturday Night,” like much of the album, bounces with a Caribbean groove, yet it is fast and tight with modern rock integrity.
“We were able to work well as a band, with no egos getting in the way,” Elder said. “I had the freedom to play what I wanted.”
There are occasional moments that do not flow with the conviction of the rest of the album. “Intro” has too many random noises in it, leaving it feeling over-produced and taking away from the raw, Clash-like bass line and gutsy feel the song could have had.
On “Heaven Tonight,” the song drags toward the end, a waning call-and-response chorus that’s better captured live.
Regardless, there is potential for the album to gain recognition beyond these shores. Songs like “Rolling” and “Nights Like This” could easily slide in on a WMVY playlist and take off from there. Several songs have the mellow of musicians like Ben Harper or Ryan Montbleau, though Vose’s lyrics are darker and more complex, and the band’s swagger a bit meaner.
Hints of hip-hop put Crooked Coast in the genre of sublime, a canon of music that is rarely captured well, but this band of Falmouth brothers pulls it off swimmingly.