Okay c'mon now, how lucky am I to have Shotki slide across my desk while I'm hiding from the Chicago winter in San Clemente for the month? Pretty damn lucky, or it could be my editor was aware of my travel plans. Either way, Shotski has dropped a snug, five-track album called West Beach, and it is soaked is west coast ocean. The album is one part surf punk and another part alt rock. This three-piece band comes out of Oregon and while that scene is decidedly different from that of so-cal, there are a lot of shared philosophy and love for similar things. There is such a great range of emotion and unpredictability. Given my current locale, I had the PERFECT testing ground for an album like this.
San Clemente, California happens to be home to some stellar surf spots and none more notable than the infamous Trestles. I decided to switch on the album as soon as I started making my hike toward the beach. It's a cool walk through dunes and it makes for good people watching. You can tell if it was good day out there just by looking at the people coming back. The opening track "Drown The Buffalo" was a great soundtrack as you make your way along the path. By the time I could see the ocean I was at the third track "West Beach." I couldn't have planned this timing any better. Beautiful sets of waves coming in and people jumping into the water with their boards with unbridled excitement.
As I settled in, the fourth track came on, "Could You Wait." This one gets a little more somber and low key. It's a beautifully written song that's great for watching surfers work their shit out on the waves. When people talk about west coast vibes, this is what they're talking about. The west coast always offers a unique perspective. Next to the populated cities is this wild, cold, harsh ocean that's got its own shit going on. As the last track came on, you could see the ocean had changed its mind and was quickly taking away the perfect gifts it was bestowing earlier. Everyone was jumping on what they could, trying to get in those last good rides while they could.
I learned quite a bit about this album by taking it on this field trip. One, there is A LOT of heart here. While the music may have been playful or cheeky, there was a tone of sincerity slid gently underneath each song. This album was also produced beautifully. Production was in the hands of Matt Greco of The Rye Room and I gotta say, he really, truly understood this album. I listened to it again in the car ride home. Even though I was no longer next to the ocean, I could feel its presence, even hear the waves.
So while surfing may have been a big theme with this review, there's a few things I want to say. You don't have to be a surfer to enjoy this album. I know because I myself am not a surfer, I am a pale Chicagoan who does laps in lake Michigan. However for me, there is always room in music collection for a some solid west coast vibes.
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