Sam Burks (drums), Tom Clary (guitar/vocals), Jesse Campbell (bass) and Tim Bachmann (guitar/vocals) are The Contra Costas. The band has been around in some formation since they were seniors in high school and the members are apparently in their last year of college at the moment. According to their Bandcamp page their release Contra Costas was recorded in 2013 but just released recently. I’m not sure of why it took so long to release but it finally arrived.
For better or for worse Contra Costas is a demo quality release. It’s hard to make out the individual instruments besides the guitar on a couple of songs. If the drum set had a bass drum it's barely audible. This is a raw recording which gives you a good idea of what the band sounds like. No more no less.
The first song “Blue Blossoms” is 101 style garage rock. I don’t think there is any denying that this song bares resemblance to The Strokes. That being said the song is well written and well delivered. The guitar strums a straightforward progression as the drummer serves up an inventive beat. I enjoyed some of the little builds and the vocals on the song even though it was hard to make out the lyrics. The song ends abruptly and goes into “Wanderlust.”
“Wanderlust” is a good song all around and arguably the highlight. I liked the vibe on this song. The production is slightly better and I could make out the bass this time around even though the song is under two minutes they pack a lot into it. It feels somewhat frantic yet contained. The bass line hits a myriad of notes while the jangly guitar keep the momentum.
“Portraiture” is aesthetically somewhere between the first and second song. There is definitely a garage rock vibe on this one but it feels slightly off center which is a good thing. This is another song displaying some potential and talent. They close with “Come (for/to) fort Zone” which is more lo-fi than their previous efforts.
As someone who has studied engineering for twenty plus years now I’d say the next thing the band should be concerned about is increasing the recording quality of their next effort. If the info on Bandcamp is correct then they should hopefully be due for some new songs.
The music while not groundbreaking is well written and the band has jangly garage rock sound with a tinge of Velvet Underground. I think this band has some potential so keep your eye on them .
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