(Photo Credit: Greg Giannukos)
We got advance access to Austin, TX's based group Los Coast's new album Samsara! Special thanks to All Eyes Media for the access to the album. Samsara drops June 14, 2019, but Los Coast's sound features a blend of alt, psychedelic, soul, and pop. Check out our track by track review of Samsara and our Artist Spotlight interview with Los Coast below!
Advance Review - Los Coast - Samsara
"Voila" is a transition track full of collected dialogue from various sources. "Monsters" kicks in next with a funky alt beat and some dynamic vocals. It moves fast, so if you stand still you'll miss it. It has some good harmony sections throughout the track as well. The sound from this track is so fresh, so different than what is being played on the radio today, it's invigorating to hear. "Simplify" is up next. It has guitar lines that evoke memories of soul and funk. Vocally, Trey Pivott bounces between melodic vocals and rapping style versing. The breakdown section on this song is absolutely fantastic and pumps the listener up, right before coming in with some great guitar work. Los Coast mix in some electronic work at the end as well to boost the melody and it all works. There's a lot going on here, but you never feel lost.
"Graves" has a rhythm found in more of classic hip hop and R&B, with a little electronic splashed in. Vocally, Pivott is fantastic on this one, his vocals rise above the rhythm and boom with authority. Los Coast once again incorporates great use of harmony here that evokes memories of classic soul. The hook in this song breaks the song up so well and is hyper-melodic, it's downright fantastic. In "(Everything but) The Kitchen Sink", Los Coast mix it up vocally with more rapping, and melody on the verse that features bass primarily. This breaks up on the hook where Pivott breaks into melodic vocals and we get more soulful sounds from the rhythm, I love the juxtaposition between the two.
With "The Morning Weight", Los Coast take a bit more of a slowed-down approach melody-wise and focus more on Pivott's vocals. Pivott puts on a show here, as he is all over the place on his register and kills it. "Shadow Work" again brings a funky rhythm with a tad of electronic to it. The focus is on Pivott, who vocally brings it with an understated performance that is extremely smooth. There is a fantastic breakdown section in the track where Pivott brings the house down vocally and the melody joins him. On "Testify", the band brings what may be the best hook of the entire album, especially vocally. The music particularly the guitars and keys in this one remind of classic soul again, fused with modern elements. This is one that I have to admit you'd have a hard time not dancing too, particularly during the guitar solo.
"Masquerade" brings a classic sound with horns and dynamic vocals from Pivott. It evokes comps to performances of greats like James Brown. The guitar also has a classic soul sound to it here as well. This track is just pure nostalgia and I absolutely love it. With "Cymatics", Los Coast brings a bit of a take on 80's pop, particularly in their use of percussion and synth. The song is an instrumental one, but it's extremely tight. "(freedumb)" is another transition track with vocals that are made to sound as if they are sampled. "Battles" kicks the door in right out of the gate with an ass kicking melody and Pivott spitting fire vocally.
"Weekend Lover" brings the psychedelic soul with it's melody. Pivott is smooth vocally here as the song moves with a quick pace. I loved the inclusion of the horns throughout, I felt they made the rhythm feel fuller. The album ends with "Chesapeake", a track that begins acoustically out the gate. It has strong hints of folk, Americana, and gospel to it. The piano included is a nice touch and brings a brightness to the melody. The harmonies are good again and help make the vocals feel warmer. I absolutely loved the use of the banjo on this track and almost jumped out of my chair when I heard it. It's a subdued note for Los Coast to take on an album where they have had their way with genre, experimenting with soul, psychedelic, hip hop, funk, pop, gospel and more. But for me it's so perfect.
Closing Thoughts - This album has a little bit of something for everyone, with Los Coast taking the notion of strict genre and turning it on it's head. What wins out on this album is talent and this Austin, TX five-piece have that in spades. It's been a while since an album has taken me to so many different places musically, with touches of soul, hip hop, folk and more and it doesn't feel jumbled at all. It's held together by dynamic vocals and masterful musicianship. Los Coast are a band that has already been shared the stage with acts like Gary Clark Jr. and St. Paul & The Broken Bones and they certainly aren't out of place in that caliber of musicianship. The album is downright great and if you don't get in on it, you're going to be kicking yourself later, but don't worry I'll be here to say I told you so.
Rating - 4/5
Artist Spotlight - Los Coast
1. How did you come to pursue music and how long have you been at it?
"It’s hard to say exactly when or why I first started playing… I was lucky to grow up in a house with instruments, so during my childhood I would often sit down and just kind of make sounds without really knowing what I was doing. I do remember being around 10 years old when my dad taught me “If I Only Had a Brain” (from the Wizard of Oz) on his acoustic guitar. A couple years later I joined the school band on trumpet and picked up a bass to learn rock covers in my garage; in college I studied jazz on electric guitar and poured a lot of my free time into learning theory and building technical skills – the rush of being able to do something I couldn’t do the day before was like some sort of cosmic fuel for my nerdy soul. As I started playing more and more gigs around town I became more and more enamored with the thrill of the stage and the power of expression, a feeling that eventually led me to Austin, aka the “Live Music Capital”. Being an instrumental player I found the perfect frontman in Trey Privott, whose powerful voice and poetic lyrics gave me a platform to create something really special sonically and musically."
2. Could you walk us through your process of writing music?
"It’s definitely a case-by-case thing. Sometimes Trey will have lyrics ready, or a general concept, and I’ll sort of “score” it part by part in a way that fits with the theme or the concept or the story, etc. Other times it’s me who has the concept, I’ll make a groove or a beat or write some chords based on it, and Trey will “score” it with lyrics. So it works out in a vice-versa sort of way. There’s no real set in stone process for us – sometimes the starting point is a bass line, sometimes it’s a vague philosophical ideal. It keeps things dynamic and interesting between us."
3. What artists have inspired you in your career?
"Oh boy what a question! I listen to a lot of jazz, classical, funk, classic rock, indie music, folk, new-wave, disco, hip-hop… list goes on. But I’d say that I really admire artists like Prince – artists with the ability to dial in their own particular sound and perfect it, so much so that when you hear a song by them you instantly recognize whose behind it. Honestly though I’d have to say concert recordings of the Grateful Dead played the biggest part in how I conceptualize music today – the way they weave together an eclectic mix of Americana, jazz, and rock & roll has always fascinated me. The improvisational forays they took were risky and full of chance – there’s this real sense of not knowing what’s coming next, but being okay with that, in a deep sort of cosmic way. It’s one great big metaphor for life: sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down, but the ride is a blast."
4. Do you have any favorite music gear (guitars, amps, effects pedals, keyboards, etc.) that you love to use? If so, what’s the story on them?
"As a gear nerd there are so many different directions I’m tempted to go with… but to keep it short I’ll just focus on one: I love my Gibson CS-336. It has the smoothness of a hollow-body for jazz chords, but also the bite and precision of a solid-body for shreddy rock licks. I’ll never forget the day I walked into the music store in Boulder, Colorado (where I went to college) and saw it on the wall. I knew right away I had to have it in a freaky sort of obsessive way. I had to sell some gear to cover the cost, but I knew it was worth it. That day I brought it home, set up a loop pedal, and just played and played... layer upon layer of sweet silky smooth guitar. It felt like heaven. While I’ll always love my Stratocaster (I played it at high school football games growing up in Texas, a truly rowdy experience), my Gibson is the tool I feel I’m at my most expressive with."
5. Can you describe the vibe at your live shows? Also, what do you enjoy most about a venue when you do a show?
"I’d like to think Los Coast is a band that can above all else can move people. Physically that means giving people a platform to dance and groove with us, but I think the emotional movement of it all is really what we’re aiming to share with the world. There is a cinematic almost theater-like quality to it, with triumphs and sorrows and spotlight moments. But it’s also fun and exciting. We want to provide an experience for people to discover deep things about themselves if they close their eyes and zone into it, while simultaneously providing an experience for people who just want to have fun to do so, in a sort of magical playful way. I guess in summary: the rabbit hole can get as deep as the listener wants it to. As far as enjoying the venues, I really like and appreciate how each venue has its own particular feel and sound to it. There are so many interesting differences out there, between open airy stages and clubs with low ceilings, tiny listening rooms and music festivals – I’m lucky to be able to explore and appreciate them all!"
6. What is one thing that you want the public to know about your music?
"I’d like them to know that even though we are the ones who made these songs, they really belong to everyone. Anyone who ever had an emotional reaction or had a blast at one of our shows, or has heard us on the radio, they all have a special sort of ownership to their own particular experience with it. We pour a lot of time and care into creating something that can stand on its own artistically, but we also try to make it accessible and approachable so that people of all sorts of diverse walks of life can tune in and find something uplifting or eye-opening or emotionally special."
7. Tell me about the writing and recording process for Samsara.
"Trey and I began recording Samsara almost 4 years ago, and we went through several different stages throughout the entire process. After assembling a collection of demos that we thought best represented our sound – a very new and exciting concept for us – we traveled to Athens, GA to record the first iteration of our album at a well-known studio out there. We had a general roadmap of what we wanted to make, but a lot was left up to chance. Working on the spot we found a really cool groove and cranked out a lot in a short period, but it wasn’t quite perfect yet. There were things we wanted to change, and ideas we wanted to incorporate that we hadn’t had the opportunity to yet. Rather than release it right away, we took the time to secure a record label deal with New West Records, which gave us an opportunity to re-approach it with a new set of tools and mindset. We used our old recordings as a base in some cases, but in others we started completely from scratch or re-recorded specific parts. Jacob Sciba (our producer in Austin at Arlyn Studios) helped Trey and I conceptualize “the art of the album” as it applied to our particular sound and our particular skills, and I’m definitely proud of what we accomplished together. The album touches on a number of different genres and feels, but still has an internal consistency and flow – it became its own little universe, an alternate reality filled out with stories and emotions, characters and scenes, powerful emotions and subtle details. In the end, all the little puzzle pieces seemed to come together just right."