Los Coast, "Samsara" (New West)
A lot of disparate influences lurk beneath the surface on "Samsara," the funky and eclectic debut album from an adventurous young band out of Austin, Texas called Los Coast.
There's the post-Motown, 1970s-era funk vibe of "Simplify," a chanting war cry of a song. There's the rap-tinged vocal that dominates "(Everything But) the Kitchen Sink" without sacrificing an ounce of pulsating bass.
And there are jam-band sensibilities scattered throughout that would make Jerry Garcia proud. That's more obvious in the band's stage performances, but it helps define the band's label-resistant spirit.
And yet the best work on this album lies elsewhere, surfacing as Los Coast pays unashamed homage to legendary shout-singers like Otis Redding and Little Richard on "Testify" and "Masquerade." They take things even higher on the album's two most soulful cuts, "The Morning Weight" and "Chesapeake," both sublime examples of R&B balladry.
The common element throughout is lead singer Trey Privott, whose no-banter, all-business stage demeanour belies an expressive, plaintive singer. His voice fits every style the band tries on, and his singing gives it unyielding intensity.
He's so good, in fact, that you wonder what would happen if the band dialed down all the dabbling and leaned harder into songs that feature Privott's vocals above all else.
That might make for a more focused sound. Still, it wouldn't be entirely true to the spirit of Los Coast, a label-defying quintet that clearly likes to range around just for the fun of it.