Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Sonic Blume, Beach Karma, 2018

Album Review

I've decided to do a few posts covering some of the stuff that I slept on in 2018. "Slept on" probably isn't accurate. From getting my head together after the end of 2017 to traveling to Japan with The RockNRoll Hi-Fives to being thrown for another loop at the end of 2018, I had a few distractions. One of my resolutions for 2019, though, is to throw myself wholeheartedly back into CoolDad Music; and that begins with getting back into the game of doing album reviews.

In July, Asbury Park-based four-piece Sonic Blume released their second EP, Beach Karma. Still in their teens, Andrew Phelan (bass), Danny Murray (drums), Matt Connery (synth / guitar / vocals), and Chase Landgrebe (guitar), make atmospheric, dreamy pop in the vein of bands like Real Estate, Beach Fossils, Wild Nothing, DIIV, and all of the bands those acts crib from like The Cure. Beach Karma consists of nine tracks, four of them short, ambient instrumentals titled "Door #1" through "Door #4." These pieces fall in between each of the other five tracks. They remind me a bit of the soundtracks that Tangerine Dream used to do for 80s films like Risky Business or Vision Quest.

"Shotgun" kicks things off with jangly guitars soaked in reverb. Lyrics like "I'm gonna close my eyes / Perfect place to hide" fit right in with the whole lazy, dreamy vibe. "Sunflower Bean" is more upbeat. The guitars chime, and here is where the influence of bands like The Cure or Cocteau Twins really shines through.

"Palms" is a standout and just got retroactively added to the "CoolDad's Favorite Songs of 2018" playlist. It combines the hum of 80s-inspired synths with the guitar jangle of early 2000s indie rock. The combination works almost to perfection. "All the Things You Say" does something similar while getting slightly more spacey. Closer "In the Sun," leans more heavily on synths than guitar and recalls the pristine synth pop of Phoenix, who I've been listening to obsessively lately.

Sonic Blume have their influences on clear display throughout Beach Karma. While they may not be breaking too much in the way of new ground, the songs have a sense of ease and familiarity that makes Beach Karma an addictive listen. Together with producer Erik Kase Romero, Sonic Blume have brought sounds from dream pop, post-punk, shoegaze, and indie rock together into a cohesive and pretty stunning whole. I look forward to watching these guys grow together, and I won't sleep on the next one.

Beach Karma is out now on Moto Records. Sonic Blume play Langosta Lounge in Asbury Park with Dentist on Saturday, January 12th.

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