Troubled Coast - Awake and Empty (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Troubled Coast

Awake and Empty (2012)

Pure Noise Records

Last January, Troubled Coast released the mouth-watering I've Been Thinking About Leaving You 7". This band has done well with its liberty in using wordspeak to dominate their post-hardcore sound and interestingly enough; none of those January songs were brought forward into this record. After listening, I realized they didn't need to bring anything from their old arsenal as they had ample material to deliver something fresh and exhilarating for their fans. When a band can constantly put out new material that keeps getting better and better, that's the stuff that keeps me hooked.

"Brother" and "Winter" open the record nicely with the haunting yet intricate and sleek guitarwork of Cory Bardwell and Brandon Wark that usually masks the discord and spoken-word of Mike Scornaienchi. This is the sort of hard-hitting opening attack that the band withheld on previous records. They seemed reserved at times past in album openers and usually built to these in-your-face anthems, but here, the explosive start is just what fans of Letters, Vagabonds and 100 Miles from Home would have wanted. These riffs and mini-solos with the proficient drums of Tahm Altemus make the songs hard to ignore.

"Confidence" feels like a sequel to their January single "La Jetee" and there's a strong sense of the progression and maturity of the band reverberating throughout the record. You see it in Scornaienchi and company as they add a bit more harmonic vocals while Scornaienchi tries his best to maintain his shrewd acumen amid his unrestrained, verbose delivery. He manages to cut down on his wordspeak a lot on the record while still staying true to his unharmonic poetry. He remains distinguishable in his unique, poetic tradition as his comprehensible, at times loquacious, words prove that he's there to get his message across–powerfully. The previous records felt like the band was trying to find its sound and here, it looks like they've finally found an ideal niche. Randy Staat's basswork is also a clear improvement as Coast seemed to focus more on their musical delivery–definitely a brave and ideal decision. Sometimes, there are slight tinges of Brand New and Colour Revolt being hinted at in bits and pieces on the record.

They take elements brilliantly from the post-hardcore realm and layer their signature sound as "Northwest," "1967" and "Missoula_ Big Sur" prove. Scornaienchi's propensity for hurling his screams like insults and yelling with angst as if he didn't give a damn for his hoarse voice reminded me a lot of Kyle Durfey's earlier vocal attempts with Pianos Become the Teeth but what's pretty slick about this record, is there's a diverse and versatile feel from track to track. It's variety throughout where fans of Touché Amoré, La Dispute, Saetia, Bright Calm Blue, Caravels, the Saddest Landscape or old-school Saosin can relate to as Coast harnesses similar sounds to them at times.

They've managed to take the best components from past albums and meshed them all here into something special. "Twenty" is vintage Coast and again, seems a follow-up to "I'm Still a Loner, Dottie" off their January record. "Lonely States" wraps up an album that's near-perfect. "I am alone / You are alone / If this is the end / Then I'm not afraid" makes a fitting closing line and proves that the wait for this full-length was well worth it. Amid the mantras and the chaos that Scornaienchi and his guys usually bring, it's also highly intriguing to see how Coast has evolved into a band that really isn't toe-tagged into just one main genre. They swim well in any deep waters. They've showcased their talent seamlessly, and to say this is commendable is a huge understatement. It's one of the most impacting and resonating records this year.