Reviews of ‘High Coast’ EP (2013)
The natural beauty of Sweden
There’s a stillness to Scandinavian winters, a blanketing of white that makes every detail in the landscape important. High Coast are a group of young musicians from Malmo, their songs have a core that is as still as the frozen landscape. Over this they weave their songs, with flowing forests of strings and understated vocals they sound like a Scandinavian outpost of the Fence Collective. ‘Talvatis’ perhaps the most so, acoustic guitars pick out serial patterns, electric guitar pucks a contrast, bass rumbles, drums when they arise are brushed, the song moves like a sleigh gliding on melody with a breeze of strings hastening its float into your consciousness.
Ambition is shown by ‘Fukushima’ which deals with the tsunami in a style not too far from Herman Dune (that familiar VU folk clop) the song though has other ideas; banjo rubs up against a tremolo of electric guitar. There’s accordion too as the song comes to its sensitive end but the music gives way to a wave of electronic noise that itself fades leaving birdsong to introduce a coda of piano. The fact that they can take a subject like this and delicately tell the story bodes well. As does the opener ‘Ocean Please Grow’ that wraps guitar notes around each other and entwining them with the vocals to create flowing melody, the song moves sweetly and eventually swells with a confidence that isn’t misplaced. These four tracks are ripe with promise, and I hope there is more on the way.
As a reviewer you get to hear more than your fair share of the desperate Americana reinvented by a new generation of fake folksters reinterpreting the dustbowl dreams of their parents. Oddly enough the most unconvincing of these fake folksters come from America but, fortunately, High Coast are and their self-titled EP are actually from Sweden.
Whilst it is true that High Coast stay close to the middle of the road with these four songs, they do however manage to inject a not inconsiderable atmosphere into the music and lyrics that they have created. Taking the best song on this EP as an example, the errant melancholy of “Young Sparrow” ably supports the poetic metaphors that emanate from the pen of Daniel Walke with his not quite perfect vocals adding an earnest humanity to the performance. He convinces where so many others do not.
If you are looking for music to wind down to at the end of a long day then High Coast have four songs that will help you do just that.
If there is a European region that has fought its way into my consciousness in the last few years, it’s Scandinavia. I’ve always been aware and entertained by the traditional musicians from the region, mainly because of their collaborations with Scottish musicians and, lately, more and more with English ones, but I’ve also been made more aware of the bands and solo artists delivering in other genres.
Sweden’s High Coast are the latest band from the region to have made contact, via their new four track, self titled EP. Performed in English and in an acoustic rock vein, the release shows a band that have a strong sense of melody and a poetic touch to their lyric. They are also a band that are aware of what is going on in the wider world and its impact.
The second track on the ep, “Fukushima” is a good example of that. The song makes a really strong statement as to how something that looks like it might be a local tragedy, can easily become something that impacts us all, both physically and spiritually and that there are lots of times in our lives where we need to pull together because there are things that we can’t always solve on our own.
Whilst the use of birdsong on songs is nothing new, I really like the way they combine it with instrumentation on “Young Sparrow” where they manage to avoid it sound twee. It’s a good song, focusing on the point in a sparrows life where it’s fledged, but isn’t sure if it’s ready to make its own way in the world.
High Coast have certainly caught my imagination. They are definitely a band I’d like to hear more off and who knows maybe catch live if they manage to get over to these shores, in the meantime, I’ll content myself with what I’ve got.
(Translation of the original Swedish text)
Two months ago, I gave you advance warning about this indiefolk band from Malmö who were about to release their first EP. Here it is now, the self-titled four-track debut.
Apart from the previously released ‘Talvatis’, the album also includes ‘Fukushima’ about the disaster involving the tsunami and nuclear power plant in Japan, and the beautiful ‘Ocean Please Grow’ and ‘Young Sparrow’. Delicately played acoustic guitars, banjos and other instruments complete a mini-album that is well worth a listen – pure nature, with its themes comprising natural disasters, oceans, birds and mountain lakes.
Don’t miss this, for anything in the world.