Lost Coast delivers some ‘Sweet Action’

Cincinnati foursome unveils its first full-length release Saturday in conjunction with a celebration at the Southgate House Revival.

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In the summer of 2014, after a run of more than a half a decade playing around the Greater Cincinnati club scene and releasing a solid self-titled debut, rootsy, rockin’ five-piece Shoot Out the Lights played its final show and the musicians amicably went their separate ways. That is until three of them — Josh Muddiman (vocals, guitar), Joshua Howard (bass) and Alan Topolski (drums) — regrouped to carry on their former band’s spirit, while also honing their instrumental, songwriting and arrangement skills to a finessed point and pushing forward. Joined by lead guitarist Eric Boehmker (who spent several years with long-running area Indie/Post Punk group Sweet Ray Laurel), the band emerged in 2015 as Lost Coast.

This Saturday, Lost Coast unveils its first full-length release, the impressive Sweet Action, in conjunction with a celebration at the Southgate House Revival (111 E. Sixth St., Newport, Ky., southgatehouse.com). Admission is $10, which includes a copy of the new album. Superb locals The Hiders and Ben Knight and the Well Diggers, as well as Dayton, Ohio’s The Boxcar Suite, open the 8 p.m. show.

While the material on Sweet Action has elements of Roots Rock, Americana and “Heartland Rock,” Lost Coast isn’t afraid of expanding beyond those borders, following wherever the song takes it. An adroit craftsman, Muddiman’s songwriting, passionate vocal rasp and acoustic guitar strums are the cornerstones of the foursome’s sound, but the other musicians help define it, taking that sturdy base and wandering into other directions with an easy poise that illuminates the chemistry between the players. Topolski and Howard lock into each other, but they aren’t merely the music’s anchor. Their parts are a balance of precision and subtle imaginativeness, rolling together with a jazzy looseness that adds greatly to the music’s expansiveness and organic swagger. Likewise, Boehmker’s leads don’t always come from a rootsy place, regularly adding unique angles and textures with his inspired ornamentation, be it spacious, echoing atmospherics or snaking riffs that wind through and around the grooves. He’s also a stirring soloist — on tracks like “Stonesy” and “Little White Lie,” he unleashes solos with the kind of from-the-gut expressiveness that instantly commands attention.

Opener “Backslide City” is a charming slice of shimmying Pop Rock, from which the album really lifts off with a pair of fluctuating but vigorous rockers that show Lost Coast’s way with dynamics and how much the band is a kindred spirit to passionate, grounded contemporary rockers like Beach Slang, My Morning Jacket and Gaslight Anthem. These elements are molded in different ways throughout the album, but Lost Coast can also surprise with swaying, ethereal AltCountry (“Echoes”), sparse, reverberating quasi-balladry (the acoustic-and-harmonica driven “It’s Too Late”) and the aforementioned “Little White Lie,” which is like a cocktail of Wilco (during its tastefully Prog-leaning Sky Blue Sky era) and The Allman Brothers at their heavy-anthem, soul-bleeding finest. 

Then there is “L.A.,” a Sweet Action highlight that doesn’t really sound like anything else on the recording, yet still contains much of Lost Coast’s essence. With a soupy aural fog filling the the track’s headspace and the rhythm undulating beneath in slow motion, swelling guitars and tranquil melodies rise and fall throughout the track’s six-and-a-half-minute run time, giving it a hypnotic and haunting power akin to a glacially paced Pink Floyd (swirling light show included).

On Sweet Action, Lost Coast shows how an “Americana” artist can embrace tradition but avoid the rut that comes when shackled by clichés. The band writes songs that don’t rely on genre specifications, a big key to its success, and, of course, it’s also willing and able to step beyond expectations and explore. But perhaps the most crucial element is the Lost Coast’s ability to craftily and coherently incorporate its discoveries into its sound without coming off like a musical tourist or a very sloppy Dr. Frankenstein. Lost Coast has the right amount of ingenuity to go with its imposing technical skills. And that makes Sweet Action a sweet listen worthy of repeated exposure, likely for many years to come. 

Beyond Saturday’s show, to listen to and purchase Lost Coast’s music, hit up lostcoastusa.bandcamp.com.

CONTACT MIKE BREEN: [email protected] 

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