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Coke Weed – Back to Soft

on July 26, 2013, 12:00am
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Last we heard from Maine-via-NYC band Coke Weed was on last year’s Nice Dream, an inviting but conflicted sophomore full-length that teetered somewhat unconfidently between sprawls and concision, folk and psychedelia. But on the band’s third album, Back to Soft, they sound like they’ve had enough of the stress that comes with any band trying to “find their sound.” Relaxed and patient as ever now, Coke Weed have returned with, in the simplest of definitions, an awesome guitar rock record.

The Velvet Underground are an obvious first point of reference on Back to Soft – an influence that songwriter Milan McAlevey has confirmed – and that’s a good thing. “Sunseeker” opens the album on a near-identical replica of the groove that anchors The Velvets’ “Sister Ray”, and “Anklet” borrows the sighing Sterling Morrison guitar line from ”Pale Blue Eyes”. But it’s more than mere pastiche, wisely. Back to Soft combines the familiar aura of the Velvets with the lackadaisical, lo-fi aesthetic of Pavement and snail-in-heat-slow tempos a la Low for its loose but constantly locked-in feel. It’s a comfortingly straightforward listen, also thanks in no small part to lead singer Nina Donghia’s gorgeously laid-back vocals.

With 10 tracks of standard pop song length, Back to Soft is deliberately lean, and it complements the album’s simplified vision perfectly. The songwriting on the second half isn’t quite as strong as its counterpart, save for the standout closer “Manchester”, a last-second turn towards country. But through all 40 minutes of foggy guitar texture, it’s apparent with Back to Soft that Coke Weed are best at taking it easy.

Essential Tracks: “Anklet”, “Desert Sleeper”, and “Manchester”

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