The good folks over at Little Dickman have come through again with new, cutting-edge music and the bands that perform it for us. This next offering is a two-band split project, containing two songs from the band High Waisted and two from Minneapolis-based The Coax. And while The Coax may not live here on the East Coast, their label and labelmates consider them family as we also do. Same goes for NYC High Waisted. Although considered a city band, their touring and recorded music brings them to our coast on a regular basis, and I felt this was a project worth writing about in a big way. I haven’t done too many “splits,” but each band has their distinct style that adds tons of flair to the Little Dickman roster, so I wanted to explore the two acts and see what they bring to the proverbial table.
First up on the platter is New York’s own High Waisted. The band contributes two tracks to the record, including “Fire Bomb” and “Free Throw.” Written, recorded and produced by the band in New York City, their tracks were mixed by the ever capable Arun Bali at Party Store in Nashville, Tennessee. They were also mastered by Taylor Bray at Forty-One Fifteen in Nashville. High Waisted formed in the spring of 2014. High Waisted is a NYC surf-styled rock band with pop sensibilities and an affliction for rock and roll. Lo-fi fuzzy bass, reverb-drenched guitars and radiant harmonies mesh to create the melodies of your wave-crashed daydreams. Fronted by Jessica Louise Dye, and quoted as being backed by “three long-haired hunks,” her quirky ‘60s garage rock aesthetic is re-imagined from the nose of a surfboard making High Waisted feel like a summer’s dream. Their debut album, recorded at Dreamland Studios in Woodstock, NY with renowned producer Bryan Pugh, was released this past spring. Having continuously sold-out NYC venues, the group is known for organizing and promoting their own shows in unexpected locations such as yachts, warehouses, and rooftops. Every show High Waisted plays becomes the ultimate party.
“Fire Bomb” vaults out of the speakers first. An aggressive mixture of 1990s alternative with a wide flair of old-school rock-and-roll soul, the song immediately falls under the leadership of singer Jessica Louis Dye. Her vocal approach is reminiscent of early Cyndi Lauper, and her use of a sexy, hiccupy vocal style mixes with the singing panache of artists such as P.J. Harvey and Brody Dalle. Guitars, bass, and drums are solid and support Jessica like clockwork. When it comes to the songs compositional worth, the band scores quite high as verses, bridges and choruses are all catchy, full-throttle and on the mark. The effects on Jessica’s vocals lend an air of old-school punk methodology, and guitars utilize their syncopated down strokes to get their ragged point across.
Next is “Free Throw.” This is probably my favorite song on the disc due to its tempo and use of chord structure as Dye sings her heart out. The chorus is a great little piece of addiction and works well with the rest of the tune. I also love the guitars, which utilize perfect chords and tone to keep this song moving at the speed of sound. The band doesn’t rely on a lot of lead guitar breaks, but then again, they don’t need to. Bass and drums are solid, nailing this poppy number straight to the floor. Dye’s vocal tone is also a high point of the song, and she commands this recording with her refined, yet emotionally raw vocal sound.
Up next are the contributions from The Coax. The Coax is a psych-rock outfit based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Heavily influenced by garage bands of the ‘60s and rock and roll bands of the ‘70s, their post-punk sound captured in the studio is replicated live with a raw energy that is undeniable. Their album, Total Drag, will be released on Mar. 3, 2017.
Their first song up is called “Bologna.” While it may be a strange name for a song instead of the lunchmeat some of us grew up on, “Bologna” is a cornucopia of rock, psychedelia and progressive sound that mixes to produce some musical compositional magic. The vocals are a bit too affected for my taste but I understand what they are going for and the guitars are fantastic. I especially love the 1970s feel of the half-time vamp as bass, drums and rhythm guitars support the lead work. I wish I knew the lead guitarists name as he’s a talented player.
Next up is “Spooky Masquerade.” This bouncy honky-tonk meets The Adams Family tune features top-notch vocals steeped in reverb, pristine backing vocals and some of the best guitar work out there today. Fast-paced and full of attitude, “Spooky Masquerade” slows down and switches gears at around 1:30, driving down deep into a pocketed groove allowing the guitars to stretch out and really sing. Bass and drums pop and drive before the band returns to their supersonic speed for the ending. Fascinating stuff from a band I hope we get to see here on the shore real soon.
All in all, this split record was a lot of fun, and the songs all make the grade when played here at the office. Both bands are completely different yet sound great together on record. Hats off to the bands and the label for trying something completely different that makes sense and occupies the brain with unusual sounds and styles.
For more information on this split record, head over to www.littledickman.com and grab your copy today.