No Kind Of Rider - Savage Coast - Singles - Reviews - Soundblab

No Kind Of Rider - Savage Coast

by Howard Scott Rating:8 Release Date:2019-05-22
No Kind Of Rider - Savage Coast
No Kind Of Rider - Savage Coast

It is becoming a fairly common trend these days for bands to release an album, promote it with great gusto, and then bring in a new or different producer to rearrange a song or two off of said album. It also seems rather common that the rearranged song just happens to be one of the strongest, if not THE strongest, cuts from the disc.

The latest example of this is provided by Portland, Oregon based quintet No Kind Of Rider. 

When I reviewed their debut album, “Savage Coast” last year, I found it to be a well-constructed and rather unique offering of indie-pop-jazz fusion. I also mentioned that the title cut was the strongest cut on the disc, in my humble opinion.

So, you can probably tell where this is heading. NKOR is releasing a reworked version of “Savage Coast”, which is produced by LA’s Math Bishop. Bishop comes to the party with great street cred, having worked with the likes of Bob Moses and The Killers in the past. 

The original version from the album was driven by quirky percussion, strong guitar work and a knock-it-out-of-the-park vocal by Sam Alexander. There was a distant flavor of Steely Dan (circa “Aja”) to the tune and a strong melodic presence that glued everything together.

On the new recording, the percussion has been smoothed out and the guitars fairly muted. Alexander’s vocal, thankfully, goes mostly untouched. What replaces the removed elements is a stunning cascade of synthesizers that pick up the tune and push it deep into the electro-pop bracket. The song is transformed into a more polished and highly more danceable entity.

Since I am reviewing this effort, I guess you now expect me to tell you which is the better of the two versions.

The answer: neither, or both! (I know, kind of a cop-out. Hey, it is all subjective, after all!)

Both versions are first class examples of the style that they were created for. As I have made clear, I thought the original was the strongest composition on an album that was overflowing with fine work.

The new version also goes to the top of the list as an electronics-driven piece of music. It has strengths where the original lacked, and I believe the vice-versa to also be true.

I do believe, however, that allowing a producer to come in and rework a song (and I’m talking in general terms here, not just this tune) removes some degree of the “soul” that inhabited the original. (I refer to the old McCartney-Phil Spector battle over the “Let It Be” album).

I have absolutely no issues with electronic music. In fact, I love bands like Bob Moses (Hey, I rated their record the best I heard during all of 2018). NKOR impressed me originally because they sounded unique. They didn’t sound like a synth-driven group, and in the rework, they do. Cream’s ”White Room” probably could have been reworked with a drum machine standing in for Ginger Baker, and it would have still been a passable tune. Would it be “better” for the substitution? Thankfully, not for me to decide.

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