Here’s the debut album from Auckland’s Coach, a trio that makes music that falls into a fuzzy netherworld between jazz and rock, retro and modern, powerful and fragile.
The band consists of Abraham Kunin (guitar and lead vocals), Jonathan Burgess (upright bass) and Todd Beeby (drums). Initially, it’s Burgess’s double bass that sets Coach’s sound apart, giving the band a smoky, late-night vibe.
The album opens with Don’t Weep. Kunin’s dark growl sings “This city that drowns us, inertia spread around us” in a tone that reminds me of Joy Division’s Ian Curtis, but then his growl gives way to a sensuous croon as he sings, “we can run away”.
Burgess’s bass sets the mood on Rain On Hugo with his bandmates adding some atmospheric tremolo-drenched guitar and skittering drums.
After the dreamy lullaby that is I Have Two Shadows, comes Roulette Wheel featuring a soulful guest vocal from up and coming singer Tamara Rickett. The track runs slow and sweet like maple syrup.
Next comes the album’s one miss-step, and ironically it’s the title track. Family Tree starts with a funky drum pattern, but then Kunin’s guitar seems to take on a mind of its own, sounding like a second-rate 70s blues-rock band. The riffing guitar is at odds with the delicate, fragile nature of the rest of the album.
Fortunately things get back on track for Can’t Hide. It’s a six-minute aural journey into the twangy darkness. This time Kunin’s guitar behaves itself, spacing out in a way that would put a smile on David Gilmour’s face.
Still Warm sounds a bit like The Dirty Three with vocals. That’s a good thing as Kunin’s vocal is pleading, fragile and intense, very much like the music. The song’s three-minute epilogue builds up to a guitar-driven crescendo and takes it to a cathartic finish. The Dirty Three vibe continues through to the final track, Love Is Like Sleep, sending the listener into an echo-laden, reverb-filled cosy aural cocoon.
But, as they say, that’s not all. A minute after Love Is Like Sleep dies away, the not-no-well-hidden track, Deadfoot, emerges. This is the only song on the album to be written by Burgess. Imagine a dark, gothic version of The Chantays’ 1963 surf hit Pipeline, mixed with a bit of Ennio Morricone…David Lynch would approve, and so do I. An impressive debut that could use just a touch more musical focus.
Click here to listen to Can’t Hide from Family Tree: