The Coconut Kids’ debut release This Time Last Year proves to be a delightful and complex four-track EP. The instrumentation is comprised of trumpet, two lovely ukuleles, an acoustic guitar, and relaxing percussive elements to create a jazzier Jack Johnson sound. And the powerful vocals pair so well with the relaxed jazzy instrumentation. Finally, the moody lyrics pair with the relaxed, jazzy sound to create an emotional texture all its own.
The tug-and-pull lyrics combine with the delightful instrumentation to create a beautiful incongruity. Right off the bat, the first track showcases this as the repeated lyric “It all went wrong” is paired with a flirty combination of the ukulele and trumpet. The vocal pairings on this EP also prove beautiful. “Richman” showcases the perfect sassy soprano/seductive baritone combination that works so well. In fact, the whole EP gives off Once vibes; I can picture these two people singing these songs to each other in a Once-like world.
“Lullaby (Don’t Say A Thing)” stands out from the rest of the tracks in the many layered vocals and more melancholic sound with the guitar and ever-present trumpet. It’s a slower track with a powerful Adele-like voice that will be sure to blow you away. “Lullaby (Don’t Say A Thing)” is a pleasant way to close out the EP.
The Wild Reeds’ three-track EP Best Wishes is like an assorted candy sampler displaying the range of sounds The Wild Reeds is capable of producing. The lyrics showcase a variety of human emotions such as hope, dejection, and self-awareness. Similarly, the overall sound varies from classic singer/songwriter to folk-country. The one thing that ties the tracks together is the perfect harmonization from the array of female vocalists.
The lyrics of “Everything Looks Better (In Hindsight)” explore the emotions of dejection, balancing regret and acceptance. The emotive lyrics eventually lead up to the track’s lyrical and instrumental climax, going from gentle fingerpicking to a voracious guitar/drum kit/keys combination. “What I Had In Mind” gives off a very Eisley sound, showcasing the band’s perfectly harmonizing vocal layering. Then “Love Make Me A Fool” comes on and a more cheery folk-country track enters my senses. The track’s classic country rhythms, self-aware lyrics and robust instrumentation make a refreshing end to an eclectic EP.
The Wild Reeds’ Best Wishes EP is an assorted delight to the senses. —Krisann Janowitz
The Lava Children’s self-titled mini-LP was released a couple of weeks ago. It isn’t terribly long, hence the “mini-” designation, but the five tracks they offer are a good collection of their efforts thus far. The PR blurb I received said something about their music being like nothing I’d ever heard before. I was immediately skeptical – most bands, or at least the agents that represent them, like to think that their band is unique and unlike anything else ever produced.
While this isn’t entirely true with The Lava Children, their sound is probably the closest I’ve heard to matching that claim in a while. It’s soft, ethereal trip-rock, with female lead vocals that range from barely comprehensible to entirely indecipherable, and simple but catchy instrumentals. I kept trying to think of bands that they sounded like, and then realizing what I’d come up with was nothing like their sound. Pixies? Nope, and I’m not sure why I even thought that. Joy Division, Eisley, Sixpence? No, no, and no, though The Lava Children have a little in common with each of them. I’m going to try to capture what their sound really is, so read on, sir/ma’am.
“I Am A Pony” kicks off the mini-LP with a bit more energy than the rest of the tracks. Guitar and bass bits are strong, contrasting nicely with the vocals. They (the vocals) really aren’t lyrical. You can occasionally hear words, but it’s more just tonal singing. Oh, and it’s trippy stuff, if you didn’t catch that, all echo-y and seemingly nonsensical. There’s a cool, if not strange beat throughout. It feels like one of the songs that belongs in a “caper” movie (Ocean’s Eleven, etc).
The album slows with “Particles.” It’s a load of crazy moaning, both from the guitar and from the vocalist. Everything is slow and exaggerated. It reminds me a bit of the later Beatles’ acid stuff. There are tons of effects on this song, which pair with the slower tempo to create a meandering, dreamy effect. There’s something of a dark undercurrent as well. “Troll” is similar, with a long, trippy instrumental intro. It features some interesting changes in tempo when moving between in and out of the chorus, mixing the slightly-more energetic with the dreamy. Most of the vocals sound as though the singer was on the other side of the room from the mic – far away, and a good fit for the overall tone.
“Firefly” includes male vocals in the background that aren’t featured elsewhere. It’s a good sound – dare I say better than with the lead vocalist by herself? I like the effect, anyway. It’s got the same overall sound as “Particles,” though the chorus is clear and has better movement to it. The album is finished with “The Green Word,” a song with great guitar bits and somewhat more understandable lyrics than earlier.
I would prefer to hear more along the lines of “Firefly” or “I Am A Pony” and less “Particles” in The Lava Children’s future releases. Trippy music is all well and good, but it should retain energy and purpose – frankly, trippy for trippy’s sake gets boring. This is otherwise a solid album, with strong continuity between songs. Listening to The Lava Children mini-LP in its entirety makes for a much better experience than giving the songs a listen one at a time. Give it a go if you want to experience something quite different from your usual fare. Trust me, whatever that is, The Lava Children are different.
Stephen Carradini and Lisa Whealy write reviews of instrumental, folk, and singer/songwriter music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.