Coastgaard - Devil on the Balcony

by Steve Ricciutti Rating:8 Release Date:2016-02-29

Watching the debut of HBO’s heavily hyped Scorcese/Jagger project Vinyl, I was overcome with nostalgia for the era wherein I came to music (Sweet’s Desolation Boulevard was my first rock album purchase, but I digress…). The other night, I found myself browsing the best of collections on iTunes and Amazon in search of some of that cool old sound. Awash in plenty I didn’t want to remember and too little of what I was hoping to find, I abandoned my search and decided instead to give the latest Coastgaard cd another spin. It took but a few minutes for me to realize that I don’t need to go back in time at all.

This is a cd that takes one back (even if they weren't actually alive at the time) to the ‘50s,‘60s, and ‘70s, to the beaches of California, the fogged over windows of cars parked at the drive-in, or, for me, the backseat of my parents Ford LTD on our annual summer vacation, where one AM channel faded into another as the miles accumulated. Yet, this is an album coming out in 2016 and it’s damn cool because they captured the feel of that time while making it fit the here and now. Devil on the Balcony, the sophomore effort from Brooklyn’s Coastgaard is a smooth cocktail of old and new, straight from Don Draper’s office bar.

“Well Adjusted Man” could be a song from some long lost recording session of The Kinks. “Genevieve,” has a VU hint complete with sweet but distant female vocals weaving in and out. “College Song” is a slow dance delight with the disco ball casting oblong shapes on the walls of the high school gymnasium. “Fur,” is a delicious sandwich cookie of silky vibes and wah-riffs couching a sweet Sgt. Peppery cream center. “Ruminator” has surf chords resonating behind mid-70s keyboards, and an Eno-era Bowie solo. Seriously, this cd is so full of sounds and influences that it’s a joy to discover, song-by-glorious-song, all the varied beauty of rock and pop from the last forty years.

When your band’s music wears its influences so obviously, it’s hard to walk the line between homage and camp, but Coastgaard not only walk that line, they create a new path all their own. There’s twangy guitars, a back beat strong with the Ventures force, and synthesizers harkening back to ? and the Mysterians. Devil on the Balcony is retro without an apparent trace of snark or condescension, and it sounds wonderful.  

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