Coasting vs. Clues (Album Reviews)


“There’s something inherently affable about Coasting’s sound, which has the grimy, big-hearted spirit of an early K Records release. And if you’re predisposed to liking garage rock or music that extols the virtues of all things handmade (check that punk rock cross-stitch on the album cover), you are not likely to hold Coasting’s lack of sonic variety or next-big-thing ambition against them. This year, though, I’m feeling extra critical, still under the moment defining spell of tUnE-yArDs‘ w h o k i l l. That record sounds nothing like You’re Never Going Back, but it affirmed something important– that a record can be brimming with ideas and unabashedly huge, and yet still sound unmistakably handmade.” – Pitchfork Album Review on Coasting

The Coasting album according to a Pitchfork review was haphazardly branded “Garage Rock“. Now there are endless sub-genres, from shoe gazing to monster-mash-twee-pop, but to give a record that clearly has instrumental elements likened to that of Built To Spill nostalgia, lowers all credibility of the reviewer, who makes no effort to describe what makes this album “Garage Rock”.

Some may be wondering who Built To Spill is, which often leads the reader to nod in agreement out of shame that he/she doesn’t know Built To Spill! In the Coasting review, there is a comparison that the record sounds like an early K Records Release. Now, music enthusiasts may have an “ah” moment, but for the others, they are left Google searching “K records” to understand what the reviewer is talking about; which is frankly downright irresponsible.

Beyond this careless comparison, the reviewer goes on to say that she, in all her first (and only) person glory, admits to “feeling extra critical”, as she is still under the influence of a completely un-related album released by tUnE-yArDs. Near the end she scrambles to find some commonality, resorting to the similar DIY feel both albums have, perhaps leaving the reader to disregard the entire review, and venture out and do it themselves; in other words, this lack-luster review does an injustice to what criticism is often about- creating an image that can be understood by any who can read at a second grade level.

clues “What’s funny with Clues is how most music journalists seem to be more concerned with where they came from, rather than where they are going. Almost every piece of news surrounding the band starts with: Clues, featuring Alden Penner (ex-Unicorn) and Brandon Reed (ex-Arcade Fire). What are interesting about Clues’ past are not the successful bands they came from, but how Penner focuses his dealings with musical fame/success into the lyrics. We’ll get to that later, but the main thing to take away is that this review will not be comparing the self titled Clues album to anything Unicorns or Arcade Fire related.” -We Listen For You review of Clues “Self-Titled” reviewed by Zach Hart.

Like promised, the reviewer does later delve into the artists history and how it relates to the side project Clues. It’s a bold move to decide that an album is “one of the most important albums of the decade.” But the true bravery is the detail and justification WLFY uses to back up such a statement. Clues is chock full of marimba, crashing cymbals and feedback. All of it layering a dewy haze over drowning lyrics that drip and unravel like that of a blood velvet curtain. Just as the light creeps in you think “finally” the bridge is coming to lift the listener’s mood, but the songs tease the ear. It’s that anticipation of melodic bliss that keeps the listener finely tuned to the painstaking chaos that proceeds. And ever so patiently if one dares to wait it out, soon comes the rush and immediate release of pent up frustration.
And to try and solve what Clues intent was for every track off their self-titled album, would not be worth the perspiration- as the reviewer alludes to in WLFY- giving the reader a synopsis detailed just enough to have them eager to get a feel of how important this album actually is.

I will be following Zach Hart of We Listen For You for the time being. @welistenforyou

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