Clouds

Review

posted 4/24/2004 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
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Due to the recent influx of Pop Punk people have lost sight of what great music should sound like. Polyvinyl Record Company is ensuring that those fans who have wandered out of the grasp of MTV still have an outlet for true Indie sound. And for that I can’t think of a better band that represents this anomaly than the Ivory Coast, an amalgamation of everything that you’ve been craving out of the Indie Scene.

“Clouds” hits the ground running with the energetic Lake Placid 1986 which features a nice blend of harmonics, guitar and vocals. Although the lyrics aren’t the most powerful the harmonizing on it fits in nicely with the rest of the music to form one of the album’s best tracks. Immediately after, however, the CD takes a pretty severe nosedive due to the weakness in the vocals. Five Little Graves isn’t too bad but at times the songs can be a bit too disjointed with no real structure or direction to them. The music is generally excellent but the vocals have no discernable point and end up coming off as something that was improvised on the spot as opposed to months of meticulous planning.

‘Swope’ is the band’s appeal to the more mainstream audiences so in that respect the track succeeds. I’m not a huge fan of the screaming that comes out in the middle of the song but I enjoy some of the melodramatic lyrics that upon reflection, I can really empathize with. ‘Things a Sword Would Say’ is probably the best composed track on the album as it features a nice blend between the vocals and the music.

Ivory Coast’s run of good tracks ends at ‘Sixty-Five Percent.’ While the track has some good breakdowns the lyrics and vocals never really fit in quite well with the music. The best way to describe the song is that it sounds like the breakdown in a power ballad. It features some nice harmonics but the vocals seem so thrown together that I had a real hard time getting through the entire track. Also, the 6:29 track inexplicably features a severe tempo change in the middle which changes the mellow riff into an almost Pop Punk-like track.

‘Traveler’ seems to concede to the fact that Emo is what really sells now in the marketplace. By far it’s the band’s most mainstream sounding track on the album. It’s your typical Emo fare with a soft verse leading into a powerful screaming chorus. Not too offensive to the ears but I was really digging the track up until the screaming. To be fair though this album came out in late 2001 so perhaps the group was just a little too far ahead of the curve.

Buried near the end of the track is the true diamond in the rough. ‘Daily Routine’ shows that Ivory Coast is, in fact, a group of competent musicians and song writers. It’s an acoustic-punk track that places the vocals in the forefront as opposed to the music. It’s probably the simplest track on the entire album but it’s also the most well produced and put together. To top it off some horns come in towards the tail end of the song to prevent the song from flat lining. I dig this track, hopefully it’s testimonial to what these guys are capable of producing when they really put their hearts into it.

I’m a huge fan of the music that comes out from this Boston-based band but I can’t bring myself to enjoy the lyrics, no matter how hard I try. Some of the tracks show glimpses of brilliance in the songwriting but it never did quite feel natural to me. By far the most well put together track is which has a nice mellow feel with vocals that are in tune with the music. Simply put, Jay Cox just isn’t cut out to be the lead singer of a band. His voice is rather generic and lacks the energy and range to really hammer home some of the lyrics that he’s singing. While he’s singing you don’t get the full impact from the lyrics because he just doesn’t have the range to pull it off. Songs like ‘Daily Routine’ are more in his range and I feel that his inability to really push the vocals to the forefront hurt the band more than it aids it.

There are great musicians and then there are great artists. While the members of The Ivory Coast are great musicians I wouldn’t necessarily call them great artists. Their music is infectious, their riffs are undeniably charming, but there’s something lacking in the vocals that makes me wish that they would have hired a different singer. The group hasn’t been heard from since early 2002 so it’s doubtful that they’ll have any releases in the near future. It’s a shame too because this band of musicians could have produced some pretty sweet music. As it stands, we’re left with a massive case of the “what ifs.” Pick it up if you’re craving some true Indie Rock, but be prepared for a few rough edges.


C-
A admirable effort from this group of Bostonians. They're excellent musicians but the lyrics could really use some polishing. A weak and underpowered lead singer doesn't help matters either.


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