Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Seaside Caves, Hope, 2016

Album Review

I feel like I've gotten off to kind of a slow start here in 2017. CoolMom left for a business trip to China a few days ago. That, coupled with the snowstorm we just had, has kept me grounded a bit in terms of shows. And I think the first week or two of any year are pretty slow for album releases.

So imagine how happy I was when Seaside Caves released their long-teased Hope on Monday. I've been listening to it for the past two or three days as I've been reconfiguring my office here at CoolDadMusicHQ, and -- as I have been at the last several Seaside Caves performances I've been able to catch -- I'm blown away.

Opener "Terminal" floats in quietly on Matthew Gere's synths and continues to layer and build until it goes out in a wall of the band's self-described "beautiful noise." James Sefchek's drum hits ring in the new wave pop of "Kim Fowley Is Dead." The song is a lush soundscape of synths; and Todd Wacha's vocals, as they do throughout the record, sound pained and plaintive, lending an appropriate sense of romance and melodrama to everything. "Trauma" is darker and heavier, relying on some big guitar sounds from Ryan Donoghue.

The instrumental interlude of "2 // 6f33 // 9m00000" gives way to early single "Summer." This is one of my favorite songs from last year. It paints a lonely, dreamy picture of watching the summer days pass by just outside the window. Dentist's Emily Bornemann lends the faintest hint of backing vocals.

"Hearts" has been a live standout to me ever since Seaside Caves have been including it in their set. Wacha's bass almost chimes -- if a bass can chime -- as it drives the song. "Cry" is another song where everything -- synths, guitar, vocals, rhythm section -- just comes together to create a dreamy radio broadcast from forgotten parts of your brain. Like "Trauma," the guitar is a big part of album-closer "Wreckage." It's classic dark wave pop that highlights the fact that Hope is the first full-band studio recording from Seaside Caves.

Seaside Caves recorded Hope with Pete Steinkopf at his Little Eden recording studio. Steinkopf and the band have succeeded in creating a sadly beautiful collection of dreams and memories. Hope may work for me because it's speaking to me in a language with which I grew up. But, even if the style of Hope is reminiscent of another era, its beauty is timeless.

Hope is out now and available at iTunes, Apple Music, and Spotify.

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