Sound: Lowcountry is the sophmore record released by the now mature Envy on The Coast. The band took 3 years to write and record the follow up to the more technical Lucy Gray. Since that album, they heavily toured and grew a fanbase outside their native Long Island, NY. During the writing phase, drummer Dan Gluszak was fired from the band and singer Ryan Hunter took recording duties behind the kit. Being heavily inspired by the south and poet Jeffrey McDaniel this album picks up 11 good pockets that make each song easy to listen to over and over again. Bassist Jeremy Valardi's tones really come out on this album and features a more tighter playing of guitarrist Brian Byrne and guitarrist/pianist Sal Bassio. The album has a real southern and slower feel than 2007's Lucy Gray, but it doesn't lack in quality. The CD has a few bonus tracks that are to be downloaded seperatly, we won't cover them here because they aren't part of the physical CD you buy. // 8
Lyrics: 01. Death March on Two, Ready?: a good powerful intro to the album, the song features a great opening riff from Byrne that is perfectly matched by Hunter's sweet voice as he caresses the words over the verses building up to a powerful chorus that'll have you screaming 'We took the chains off!'
02. The Devil's Tongue: one of the first songs played live by the band from this latest cycle. As is the case with the majority of the album, this song has a great pocket created by Hunter's drums and Velardi's bass and the rest is built around that. Another simple lyrical mindgame set up by Hunter, mostly revolving about indulging in the evil side of oneself.
03. Headfirst In The River: the first single off of Lowcountry, is a really easy listen with creative wording by Hunter. The influence of poet Jeffrey McDaniel is potent here where he comes up with lines like 'And it's my job, to smile while pigs feast, Swallows slop out of the head of a crooked priest'. A great song to hear over and over and again. The feel of the song is about being an object that everyone cherishes while it's profitable and then becomes nothing as soon as its over. Bassio and Hunter blend well in the chorus and makes a rather enjoyable song.
04. Puritan Dirt Song: a slower song than the previous ones. Hunter sings over a low single guitar part for the majority of this song. The lyrics evoke a deeper meaning than their random appearance. Hunter and Bassio yelling 'true' together in the chorus leaves a rather haunting feeling that'll drive you back to this song periodically.
05. Laugh Ourselves To Death: opens with a creative drum beat from Hunter. Very enjoyable vocal pattern over a simple yet fun to listen to orchestration behind it. Layed vocals do well repeating 'laugh ourselves to death' over and over again in the chorus. The actual song appears to be about abandoning your money and living on the land, and laughing at those who only live through the dollars they earn forgetting how to really live. Creative writing by Hunter and the vocals really suit the flow of the song and Velardi's interesting high pitched bass line.
06. The Great American T-Shirt Racket: another well played song prior to the records release. It appeared live in early 2009 and became a favorite with fans due to the interesting chorus 'Now I have a t-shirt to go with my scars'. The overall lyrical quality is very fun to listen to. It shows another McDaniel heavily influenced song. Very fun and interesting track to hear over and over again. Hunter's live presence is felt in his singing where you can almost imagine him singing it to you live in front of you if you've ever experienced and Envy on The Coast show.
07. Southern Comfort: this was one of the first played songs live, appearing in late 2008, prior to the departure of Gluszak. Opens softly with an overdub from an episode of 'The Twilight Zone' that ends with the character screaming 'The state is not GOD!'. Bassio and Hunter layer each other singing the same lines and it's very easy to decipher and comprehend. The main idea of the song is that you can work as hard as you want to be beautiful and perfect and be accepted, or just live your life like everyone else. Great soothing simple song by the band.
08. *: Just a few voicemails from the band, random kind of an intermission for those listening. Could have gone without it on the album to make room for one of the numerous bonus tracks.
09. Like I Do: one of the slowest songs on the album. Almost feels like a slowjam throughout. What the song lacks in musical fullness, it makes up for with good writing. Hunter paints a picture of a depressing vision of a night high in a hotel room letting one's mind wander. Bassio's keyboards in the backround create a darker tone that almost makes it feel like a church organ accompanying this dark mood emitted from Hunter's voice and mind.
10. Numb: one of the most enjoyable songs from this album. Right from the start, Hunter unleashes 'I'll rape this city just to show you she's as pretty in the night as day'. One goes deeper than the literal meaning and finds a poetic interpretation of a night owl alive in the world. The song repeats overtones of using drugs to cope with societies illnesses and a way to get away from the stress of reality and possibly a breakup with a girl. Hunter bellows 'Now I'll swallow anything that reminds me I am temporary!'
11. Made of Stone: the only full on acoustic song on the album. The song echoes tones of becoming immune to problems and letting everyone know that he's impervious to anyone's suggestions. Repeating that he's 'made of stone' essentially says he's given up hope and will just live on as we are destined by the earth. The song seems to be about realizing that Jesus wasn't a savior and trying to accept that the world is the only thing that writes our future. Very, poetic and well sung by a soft Hunter that almost sounds like a lulliby.
12. Clean of You: a very quality song by the boys this go round. Possibly an attack on big business and politicans. Hunter addresses those groups saying 'They fed us the works... ahh and then they changed all my words, cause I wouldn't say that to you.. cause I don't have to lie, to keep you from the truth'. The chorus is witty and smart for Hunter to call them out saying he'll put sugar in their gas tanks and wash his hands clean of them. Creative and powerful from the entire band.
Bonus: Just South of Heaven: put on the disc possibly to make up for *, this track is a chilling bluesy song that shows new depth of the band. Totally embracing the entire southern feel, comes out this haunting tale of two creatures parading around the water 'just south of heaven'. Hunter's clever singing meets up with Byrne's slide guitar and gang vocals from the entire band turn this into a hidden gem on the end of 'Clean of You' digital listeners will find it better than actual cd listeners whom might skip it with the minute+ of deadspace between
Overall: The lyrical quality is different, but not worse than the 2007 debut, Lucy Gray. Coming out with an entirely different record, will surely polarize some diehard fans. True fans of the band will applaud the escape from normality and willingness of the band to release something completely unexpected from the band. Obviously extensive time in the south and thorough reading of Jeffrey McDaniel have influenced some of the more creative writings that Hunter has put on a record in the band's career. Remember, it's not bad, just different. // 9
Overall Impression: The album will certainly polarize fans of Envy On The Coast. New fans may have a hard time adjusting to the old Envy material, and vice versa. Gone are the flashy writing of 'Lucy Gray' era Envy on the Coast, as well as the technical prowess that was drummer Dan Gluszak. Interesting to note, Ryan Hunter recorded almost all of the drums, vocals and even some guitar parts on this album. If you were looking for a twin to their last album, you will be disappointed, but those that go into it with an open mind will leave pretty satisfied. Was this album worth the 3 year wait that fans have endured? I'd say so, the band has matured to a sound that closely identifies with some of Incubus' work, but at the same time remains unique enough to remind you that Envy on the Coast is a great band lurking under many people's radar! Look for big things following this record! // 9