Rapid Fire Reviews: 8/1

Posted: by Eli

Cool American – You Can Win A Few

Portland, Oregon’s got a cool little niche scene bubbling right now, as bands like Sioux Falls, Snow Roller, and Turtlenecked have dropped some of the year’s most interesting rock records. Now, the debut full-length from Cool American can be added to that list as well, for it treads familiar indie rock territory, but in a way that doesn’t sound cheaply recycled. Songwriter Nathan Tucker tastefully blends the nasally, half-baked vocals of Snow Roller (his other band) with the urgency, edge and acute melodicism of Sioux Falls.

However, that’s not to say the band is simply an amalgamation of their comrades and forefathers. Tracks like “Only Thing” and the opener “Struggle For Motivation” are sweet and satisfying indie rock numbers-the former of which holds one of the most memorable one-liners of the year: “The only thing you know how to do/is to become what somebody else wants you to.

The album doesn’t fall victim to tiresome predictability like many other melodic indie rock records do. The crown jewel is the slow-burning “Consumes Itself” that follows many of the record’s catchiest tracks. It begins unassumingly, but builds slowly until the raspy background vocals take over and the track evolves into a churning, densely layered fusion of distortion and soaring “woo-oo’s.” It proves the band can be both urgent and patient.


Weakened Friends – CRUSHED

Weakened Friends are an indie band from Maine that have a fresh energy and sound. Their newest album, CRUSHED, mixes No Doubt esque vocals (especially on the opening track) with instrumentals reminiscent of Hop Along or other punk leaning indie bands. It’s a nice combo and it’s something we haven’t heard in a bit. The songs push forward with a driving beat, and nearly always build to an energetic chorus. The guitars fill in nicely but these tracks are led by the vocals.

When the band slows it down on the back end of the album with “Blankets” and “i dont” the listener has a bit more time to appreciate the emotional pull of the lyrics. Weakened Friends are combining this EP with their last EP for a vinyl release on Counter Intuitive Records that should be rad. Well played, Maine. Keep it coming.


Happy Diving – Electric Soul Unity

Electric Soul Unity is a quick assault of super fuzzy lo-fi alt rock a la Diarrhea Planet, Rozwell Kid, and of course Dinosaur Jr.. Happy Diving don’t break any new ground with this release, but the 12 songs zoom by surprisingly fast, allotting no time for their fine-tuned template to run out of inherent likeability.

The production is especially well-done, largely because there’s very little of it. It’s got the raw, unnecessarily loud, sweaty basement feel that these tracks require. Although the vocals are almost always muddled within the raw, scratchy mix, the melodies still come through and many of the riffs are impossible not to headbang and smile along to. You’d think at this point that this type of music would become trite and boring. However, bands like Happy Diving keep finding ways to rework a tried and true sound.