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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Cold Water Flat - s/t

Name: Cold Water Flat
Album: s/t
Year: 1995
Style: Alternative Rock
Similar Bands: Buffalo Tom; Afghan Whigs, Catharine Wheel, Collective Soul
"One-Word" Review: Boring-elongated-fuzz-rock
Based Out Of: Boston, MA
Label: Fort Apache, MCA
Cold Water Flat - CD & Back Sticker

Cold Water Flat (1995)
  1. Virus Road 2:47 (sample)
  2. King of the Underground 3:56 (sample)
  3. Numb 4:52 (sample)
  4. Magnetic North Pole 2:51 (sample)
  5. Mistaken 4:32 (sample)
  6. Beautiful 4:43 (sample)
  7. Rescue Lights 2:44 (sample)
  8. It's Over 3:23 (sample)
  9. All I Had 3:29 (sample)
  10. She Is 2:59 (sample)
  11. Hold My Head 5:56 (sample)
Album Rating (1-10):
4.5

Members & Other Bands:
Paul Janovitz - vocals, guitar (Dragstrip Courage)
Ted Silva - bass
Paul Harding - drums
Sean Slade - Producer
Tim O'Heir - Producer

Unknown-ness: I'd like to say I had at least heard of this band, but I can't place if I have. I was a big fan, of the music coming out while growing up in 93-98, so I probably came across their name. But I can't place it. I think I bought this album because of the relativly close name to a so-so opening band cold war kids. Plus this CD was like 25 cents. There was no artwork, just the sticker on the back of the song titles.

Album Review: So I’ve read a little about them, and the major point to be made is that the main guy is the brother to one guy in Buffalo Tom. And more than this, their sounds are similar. So let me build upon that. Track one is “Virus Road.” There is a video for the song on Youtube, so I would have to assume this is the single. It begins with a nice groovy bass line. Then fuzz guitars are added, drowning out the drums, which are also new to the mix early on. The vocals are slightly raspy, and angry, not quite yelling, but they are aggressive. The rhythm supplied by the guitars and drums creates a head nodding groove. “King of the Underground” gives more fuzz, and blankets its melodies by mountains of distortion. Occasionally, the bass line will poke out from under, but it is quickly masked by amplified chord changes from the alternative guitars. There are wailing Dinosaur Jr like guitar solos imbedded in the song. But still, the strained vocals take center stage. There are also a few slow tempo changes in the song. “Numb” slows the pace down to a waltz tempo. All these songs sound like they are straight out of the My So-Called Life era. Although I liked this music then, it is dense and boring to my ear now. I could imagine melodic music fans detesting the direction that music took, as this example inhabited the airwaves of the mid 90’s. Looking back, and listening to this makes me feel for the catchy/hooky pop fans. I just feel bored while listening to this. That said, the next song is more sing song like, and is definitely more melodic. Even with the screeching guitars, the rhythm guitar and bass bounce “Magnetic North Pole” along. The guitar solo is short, and to the point. The vocals are quick bursts of emotional strain, and they mix in with the urgency of the tempo. “Mistaken” drops the energy down to null, coming out of the speakers as an acoustic ballad. The production is close to alt-country. Fuzz introduces the next track, “Beautiful” an alternative guitar power rock song. The verse is slowed down by the controlled, subdued vocals. The chorus picks up the energy to balance out the energy the vocals come into. A lull in the loudness around 3:30 is quickly transplanted with one final burst of energy, before the song winds down.


“Rescue Lights” is fuzz-chord driven rock song. The drums and catchy bass also drive the song, but it is really the chord changes that maintain the pace. This song kinda of sounds like my friend’s band: Winston’s Dog. “It’s Over” begins as a folky acoustic tune. The alterna-rock takes over, and the singer’s passion comes out as he sings the title’s lyric in the chorus. “All I Had” is very simple. The main instrumentation is a quiet, choppy strum of the acoustic guitar, which also works as percussion. Quiet, barely audible vocals are layered over the music too. A fuzz guitar sounding like is miles away, mixes in. A vacant, empty sounding wind finishes the track. Rocking, repetitive guitar begins the next track, “She Is.” It is a description of an addictive, always around girl, comparing her to heroine, among other things. It is a quick paced rocking track, which makes way for the tempo change of the final song. The lengthy “Hold My Head” represents the ballad side of CWF’s musical personality. It is comprised of slow calculated vocals and slow meandering guitar and bass. About halfway through, fuzz guitars are slowly added, and turned up in the production. Eventually they take over the sound, and the song becomes metal-ized. The fuzz continues throughout the last 2 minutes, and the album ends with a crash of electronic whining.


Altogether this album forms a picture of 1994-1995’s musical direction, one of which I look back on favorably as I was in High School, but I feel misguided, as the music sounds so boring today. Fuzz used for fuzz’s sake just does not seem exciting or unique. It sounds like it s a fail-safe for a band who has to cover their mistakes and tempo changes with noise.

Stand Out Track:
Magnetic North Pole

Links:Cold Water Flat -Wikipedia
Cold Water Flat - allmusic
Cold Water Flat - Myspace
Cold Water Flat article in Boston Herald
Cold Water Flat - review on furia
Cold Water Flat - blog review
Virus Road on Youtube

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