It takes a lot these days to stick out in the post-hardcore scene.
With bands like The Bunny the Bear, Of Mice and Men and Memphis May Fire pumping out drivel that clogs the arteries of the scene year after year, it’s hard for an honest band to get noticed. In early 2011, a band from the San Francisco Bay area released one of the best, if not the best, post-hardcore albums of the year. That band is Troubled Coast. Not even a year later, Troubled Coast has released another record, the band’s first for Pure Noise Records, the 7” I’ve Been Thinking About Leaving You.
The first noticeable element of I’ve Been Thinking About Leaving You is how much more polished the band sounds with the label’s backing. The guitars come through more brightly, the drums hit harder, and every piece of music cuts through better than on the previous full-length Letters. On “Patient Hands,” vocalist Mike “Mile” Scornaienchi’s voice sounds the best it ever has, while retaining its grit. The guitar work of Tahm Altemus, Cory Bardwell and Brandon Wark is also much improved, especially the leads provided by Altemus. Also worth noting is the addition of more clean vocals provided by Bardwell, which is noticeable on “Patient Hands,” as well as a great guest-vocal appearance by This American Scene‘s Matt Vincent during the bridge. At first listen, this may seem like a move to fit in with the more mainstream offerings of the genre. After repeated listens, it becomes clear that regardless of whether this shift fits more in the norm for the genre, Troubled Coast simply does it better than those bands before them.
The middle tracks of the EP, “I’m Still a Loner, Dottie,” and “La Jetee,” feature Scornaienchi at his best. On the former, he shows how he has perfected the harsh spoken-word approach that he began using on Letters. If you are a fan of any of the bands in the Wave, listen to “I’m Still a Loner, Dottie.” You’ll find your new favorite band. The track is driven by extremely tight drums and bass provided by Kerry Gould and Randy Staat, respectively. On the latter track, if you can listen to the opening drone of the guitar and thumping drums and not nod your head viciously, there is probably something wrong with you. Again, Bardwell’s clean vocals shine and provide a perfect contrast to Scornaienchi’s gruff shouts.
The closing track, “The First Night of the New World,” furthers the experimentation shown so much on Letters, with spoken-word vocals accompanied by almost post-rock influenced instrumentation. When the heavier chorus kicks in, the track really hits home and shows how much better Troubled Coast is than its peers.
Do not sleep on Troubled Coast. If you are a fan of the early days of post-hardcore, before kids decided dubstep and electronics were a good idea to incorporate into the genre, you will love this band. Listen now so you can say you were a fan before the band took the scene by storm.