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Black Lives At the Golden Coast

The Icarus Line

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Album Review

Since the folks of Icarus Line are longtime fans of shoegazer granddaddies the Jesus and Mary Chain and toured with them as their opening act, it's not surprising that some psychedelic influences would start to seep through. On Black Line at the Golden Coast, the band melds garage rock with psychedelia to veer away from the snarl of the Stooges and head towards Black Rebel Motorcycle Club territory. On "Victory Gardens" the guitars echo and drone in the background (over a whispery vocal that would fit perfectly on Psychocandy). This new manner is totally unexpected for a band that's often overshadowed by its destructive off-stage antics; at the same time, this particular song feels completely natural and makes for one of the album's most brilliantly heartfelt moments. Joe Cardamone uses that airy style of singing again on the sleepy and lush "Fshn Fvr" over a driving acoustic guitar and some spacious drum fills until a razor squeal of a guitar startles the dreamers awake. Even when the rhythm section tries to be mellow there is an unsettling tension, like the group is holding back an explosion. It's mainly the variation in the frontman's performances that provides this album with such a definitive variation from song to song that wasn't present on prior releases, like when Cardamone flips over from his breathy vocal in the ironically titled "Slayer" to a screeching wail in "Sick Bitch." The band has started to dig deeper into their bag of influences, from Gang of Four angular post-rock, Love and Rockets psych-goth, to T. Rex's sexy grooves. The fact that they're competently tackling these styles while remaining true to the burned-out swagger that made them successful makes this one of their most dramatic and exciting releases yet. Hopefully they'll continue venturing down this rabbit-hole.


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

As a modern echo of the rock & roll terror that was inspired by Black Flag and the Stooges, the Icarus Line offered a screaming wake-up call to the West Coast underground in the late '90s. Coming together following the demise of a handful of aggro-punk projects in their Los Angeles homes, singer Joe Cardamone, bassist Lance Arnao, and guitarists Alvin DeGuzman and Aaron North went through several different drummers before finding Jeff Watson a year after their formation. Never performing without...
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Black Lives At the Golden Coast, The Icarus Line
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