I don't know about you but anytime I hear the words "folk rock," my eyes glaze over and I tune out. Not because I dislike it, mind you, but mostly because the market for this style has been oversaturated with the latest incarnation of Of Monsters and Mumford, leaving me, and a lot of fans like me, more than cynical towards anything new that might pop up. Fortunately, I have good news for the jaded: Indianapolis' Coyote Armada is breathing some fresh air into the stale genre.
The opening track of the band's debut album, Crime Wave, is named after my least favorite baseball player ("Albert Pujols") but that doesn't deter my enjoyment of the song. It's immediately clear that Coyote Armada isn't here to cash in on trends, as "Pujols" is an easy-going and complex toe-tapper. Bob Barrick's gritty vocals give Crime Wave an edge most of their peers lack; his persistent twang throughout "Aliaday" complements the track's stellar guitar work and his range takes center stage on ballad "How Not To Be Lonely."
While Barrick's vocals give Crime Wave its soul, it's the musicianship from the rest of Coyote Armada that separates the band from the rest of the field. An avalanche of various instruments are featured throughout (banjo, mandolin, violin, etc.), creating an extensive and intricate sound. The delicate build of "Colorado" will give listeners Bon Iver flashbacks, the title track swells with violin and mandolin flourishes, and "Bloomington" retains a conviction throughout, eventually resulting into a frenzied outro.
Coyote Armada doesn't stay in one lane musically for very long, shifting gears and grooves frequently and effectively. "The Ballad of Edward Snowden" and "The Snake of James Dean" anchor the middle of Crime Wave and both serve as prime examples of Coyote Armada's diverse sound. The former is an upbeat number that lives up to the band's "experimental folk-pop" descriptor while the latter builds character with a dark alt-country vibe.
Crime Wave is the type of folk record you bust out the good whiskey for, an exciting and substantial debut meticulously crafted by a sextet that possesses a vast knowledge of the genre. And they push their musical boundaries to expand on said genre, giving weary listeners like me a reprieve from the monotony of current pop folk.
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