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River City Tanlines – Coast To Coast (Big Legal Mess)

27 July 2012

I was and am a huge fan of Jay Reatard but not nearly as much as his non-solo work. River City Tanlines leader Alicja Trout was the ying (or yang, whatever) to Jay in Lost Sounds, Destruction Unit, and Nervous Patterns. I’m not at all intimating that my lack of enthusiasm for those projects was Trout’s fault. Not in the least. The fact is that they had the right idea joining forces, as they are both supreme talents. Like Jay, I love Trout’s work away from that duo. I loved her Shining Apple 7” (under the pseudonym Alicja-Pop) and her work with this band. They have released a bunch of excellent singles (collected together as All 7 Inches Plus 2 More) and quite the auspicious debut album, I’m Your Negative. Six years have passed since that LP but I expect their reputation to expand by leaps and bounds after the sophomore full-length, Coast To Coast.

Opener “I Don’t Get It,” has a “Rawhide,”-esque bassline and beat beneath garage punk fuzz guitars. Then the hook comes in and you hear the echoes of her late former bandmate in Trout’s voice and time signature. The album then takes it down, but not in quality. It shifts to softer, almost bubblegum Runaways with “Stop My Heart,” and the punkier “Pretty Please,”. Those first three tracks are just top notch. The pace picks up again and brings us to another highlight with the soaring “When I Became You,”. With this album, the term “Coast To Coast” isn’t so much geographical as navigating through genres. The track “Dark Matter,” is, itself, a cross-section of the album that samples multiple styles and speeds into one song, melding NWOBHM and break neck surf. As surprising as the mash-up is, it is all done seamlessly. Nothing sounds out of place. The album comes to a close with the stalking “Waiting For Nothing,”. The track seems a little monotonous at first but builds off the same simple riff like one of Patti Smith’s epic best until it struts away. A short and satisfying journey.

Stop My Heart