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Synth Album Review: "Tales From The Coast" by Louvers

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Karl has been a freelance writer for over 10 years. He's passionate about music, art, and writing!

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Initial Impressions

Tales From The Coast by Louvers (John DiSalvo) is an exploration of the more aching, melancholy side of nostalgia with John DiSalvo’s strong vocal performances, electric guitar which adds some unique timbres to the songs, varied and textured synths along with throbbing beats and sonic painting that creates evocative atmospheres.

My first observation is about the vocal performances on this album. John DiSalvo’s voice has a fresh quality, not trying to emulate anyone else but creating his own sound and expressing himself well in his singing. His voice’s timbre and range adds to the lyrics that he’s written for the album.

Speaking of lyrics, the words to the songs on Tales From The Coast are full of beautiful images, poignant moments of nostalgia and tell miniature stories that grab at my heart. I feel that the words capture the essence of yearning for times past while still trying to hold onto some hope for a better future.

The synths on Tales From The Coast explore a whole variety of timbres, sounds and emotional content as they move through the music. There are often a whole range of different sonic signatures combined in one song, shifting through different tones and feelings as they compliment and contrast the vocals and lyrics to create an interesting and cohesive end result.

Track-by-Track Analysis

"Quarantine Dream” comes to life with the sound of waves and the cries of seagulls as they’re joined by a deep bass throbbing and a high synth flickering through the darker waves under it as there’s the sound of a powerful engine starting up and accelerating with a snarl. The drums add their steady beat to the oscillating synth line.

John DiSalvo’s voice is quite distinctive and warm over the slightly distorted guitar twists through the song along with a bending, chiming sound. I find the slightly twisted and distorted feeling of the guitar quite grabbing as it sings with a feeling of melancholy to it and the drums pulse on and on. Bright chimes twist and bend along with the guitar.

We have all been through times that we could not have predicted. This song is a snapshot of emotion and memory related to the coronavirus pandemic. As the song opens, the narrator speaks of laying around until the sun went down. There’s a sense of time passing in a haze in the lines, “We took a walk in March when it was freezing cold. Lost our way on the shores of May.” The narrator finds himself trying to wake up and asks, “Did we just dream all this pain?

There is nostalgia and an aching feeling in the words, “I remember days, layin' by the shore with your arms around my neck.” There’s sadness as the narrator says, “But the dreams they came and we couldn't help the feelings of the end.”

The feeling of a strange disruption in time is conveyed in the line, “The future lays in a deep memory, that isn't really the past” and wistfully the narrator adds, “Somewhere off and far away, maybe we'll get it back.”

Deep bass shifts through a pattern of distorted and drifting notes, as long bright lines of descending shadowy synth move in the background to kick off “Night Run.” There’s the rumble of a powerful engine accelerating as the hard-charging retro drums throb under rising flashes of bright synth that cry out into the song. Air sweeps through along with organ-like notes and a shimmering synth that spins and circles over the bass.

I am drawn to the melancholy quality of the medium-high synth pattern that's joined by roaring V8 sound and the continual quick pulse of high synth notes. Shining arpeggios whirl and synth chords climb under them over the big retro beat that throbs onward. There’s break to the string-like, bright synth and a rapid oscillation of tense sound that breaks to glowing notes with a nasal feeling to them that wander through the track. We end on dark chords and rapid synth notes.

“Streets of Rage 2020” opens with rain rushing and thunder roaring as dark bass and shimmering, shifting synth full of warmth and light move into the song. The slightly subdued lead synth calls out while arpeggios shimmer and flicker behind that aching synth and now the beat rams in.

John DiSalvo’s vocals have a great rock energy to them as the propulsive beat keeps throbbing under the somewhat disembodied voice. The shiny arpeggios whirl and the steady beat keeps moving the track forward as the bright but sad lead synth cries with emotion. Hollow percussion moves as the sound of a glockenspiel add a delicate feeling and now the electric guitar cries out with a moving, shifting solo that has a rich tone to it.

A snippet of imagery unfolds as the lyrics speaking of walking down the “streets of rage” and wondering when we “come of age.” I enjoy the reflection of confident swagger hiding insecurity in the words, “feel unsure, but never looked so brave.”

The writing is strong in the line, “A different side of the city night was given life by the neon lights” and as they strode down the streets the “pavement shook underneath their boots” while they sought themselves on the streets of rage.

Solid drums and a resonant, technological sounding lead synth are joined by John DiSalvo’s warm vocals to begin “Summerwave03. ” Higher, oscillating synth moves along with a warmer flow of sound that washes through the background. The guitar, unique and quite rich in tone, calls out a surprisingly gentle and delicate melody that I rather enjoy.

The drums drive underneath the soaring vocals, as a buzzing synth moves under the warm swelling of the vocals. The steady beat is joined by a bright sound that pulsates through the track. The soaring vocal melody touches my heart as a warm, full synth solo sings into the music.

This is a song about a changing relationship through time. It starts out with a carefree feeling in the words, “the days we laughed away, the nights we'd drink and say ‘Someday, we'll wish we were here and now.’ ” and the narrator points out that he’d say, “this is the best that will come.” The chorus is a reply as the narrator says that he was right in many ways before adding, “but for all the times I was right, I was so wrong.”

With age comes an awareness that “our opinions change and we both know that happiness is something we'll chase for good. The narrator adds that there was a lot of fighting and crying but “we'd always end up in the same old spots” before repeating the chorus.

“Tales From The Coast” starts out with flashing synths float across a drifting, gliding background and steady throbbing pulse of the bass. A repeating, bright synth and moving bass line is joined by strong drums as washes of pink cloudy synth glides through the song. The guitar cries out along with John DiSalvo’s expressive vocals above the throbbing beat. The guitar sings and bends, adding an original voice of its own to the song.

The synth solo sings out, just tinged with a little melancholy. I also enjoy it as the vocals are doubled in the echoing sound of the track. The guitar melody cuts in, singing out over the other elements in the track with warmth and energy as a synth solo leaps out over shining, spinning arpeggios.

Dreaminess, yearning and a feeling of the summer’s glow pervade this song. The narrator begins by asking to be held and adds, “When the rain falls down, you make me feel so cool.” I enjoy the mixture of emotions in the line, “When the waves they break, this coast was born to ache.” There is a deep sense of the desire to exist where neon gives them life and where they’ll give their bodies to the night.

Our narrator cries out, “Oooh you, you take me like you do” and talks of the nostalgia for the summer that has passed and says, “we could chase it all night long.” There is an inevitability in the words, “The waves are made made to break, our bodies are born to ache” and he talks about the “neon dream” as it lives on and concludes, “we could trap it in a song.”

The evocation of a rushing midnight drive is made in the lyrics, “through the night we race along, while the streets guide us home.” I am so drawn to the imagery in the line, “The engine rages on, sings a sad old song.” The tale concludes as the narrator says, “when the northern cold winds blow, we’ll be sharin’ tales from the coast.”

Intertwining pulses of deep bass move with shifting high synth chords over the heartbeat of the drums as “The Credits” comes to life. The vocals move in, carried by the unique sound of John DiSalvo’s voice as the bouncing drums and throbbing bass provide support. The whole song is full of aching warmth, propelled by the intertwining synths, drums and bass.

Flashes of light shine out as the lead synth sings out a bright, warm melody. I enjoy the deep emotion in the song as shifting pulses of sound moves through and, all the feeling pouring out of the music. The lead synth sings again, grabbing my heartstrings and tugging as the guitar calls out, adding to the feeling of warmth intermingled with melancholy.

The opening image of this song is wonderful as it says, “Feelin’ time as it takes a toll to grow a world. Fight together and overcome as the dream unfurls.” There’s an acknowledgement that reality often intrudes on our lives and we find “romance lost in the day to day as the rose color fades” and the harsh realities of the world “push us away.”

Memory and nostalgia fill the words of this song as our narrator talks of seeing the subject of the song through “a summer haze when the clouds have passed away.” and “winter’s bliss when it all melts away” and finding that they weren’t far away since they’d stayed in his heart.

In a world that is increasingly mediated through digital means, we are “killin' time on the mojo-wire” as we are studied and tracked by the machine that keeps us on “an endless database.” The narrator concludes that “Secrets find we can only guess our one true fate” and as we search the past for our future selves, “we were closer than we think.”

Conclusion

Tales From The Coast is an album that is drenched in emotion, nostalgia and well-integrated musical elements that combine to produce music that is rich, full of imagery and compelling in how it connects with the listener in forming intense auditory imagery.

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