Review Summary: I raise a toast to the rock n' roll ghost, but it ain't whiskey; it's Emergen-C!!
As I stood in line to ride the Mean Streak, a source of fond childhood memories, it struck me how decrepit the foundation supporting this aging, wooden roller coaster really was. The posts holding up the track were damp and rotting, the bolts driven into the siding were nearly rusted off, and pools of stagnant, ill-colored water collected in the middle of waiting lines. It was in this moment that “Jackson” by Cymbals Eat Guitars, and all of its theme park imagery, popped into my head.
The Cymbals’ album LOSE
resembles a classic coaster, a towering monument on the outside, but exhausted at it’s core. Each track is set in a different scenario of depravity, tracing from frontman Joseph D’Agostino’s teenage experiences sneaking out in "benzo blackouts" to get a taste of the Rock n’ Roll nightlife, to recent stories of having to meet his local drug kingpin in person because “the feds closed the Silk Road." He refuses to spare any of the gory details, using the lyrics as a form of catharsis to move on from depressing, yet prominent, life events in his past.
most powerful moments come from the dark events surrounding D’Agostino’s bitter reminiscence of his closest childhood friends. Centerpiece “Child Bride” spends about 5 seconds sounding whimsical and cute before kicking you in the teeth with the line, “Child Bride, you were my best friend, until your dad slapped the living *** out of you.” The reality of the situation eluded D’Agostino for years until he ran into his friend again a decade later, discovering that he had fallen victim to the same addictions that had torn his family apart.
can be most easily categorized as a noise rock album, due to its interwoven textures of guitar feedback, ambient synth pads and sequencers featured throughout, but influences can be found from all across the board, such as psychedelia on the Tame Impala-esque epic “Laramie,” and bluesy Americana in “Child Bride” and “2 Hip Soul.” Each member shows off their own technical prowess, while still understanding the importance of piecing their instrument within the context of the mix. Matt Whipple, on the bass, demonstrates an amazing ear for grooves that add an extra addictive melodic layer, while never hoarding the spotlight.
Nostalgia has a tendency to distort memories to a rosy hue. As a kid, I would fantasize over time spent at Cedar Point, home of the Mean Streak. I imagined it as a special haven of joy and thrills; a home away from home. But when I returned a couple years ago, the magic suddenly wore off, and I remembered the impatience of waiting hours for a seat, the anxiety of searching for my family within a massive crowd of tourists. Today, the memories hurt a little more than usual, as my cousin, who often joined us at Cedar Point, lies in the hospital in critical condition, even as I write this sentence… Nostalgia can be warm and comforting, it can be beautiful and peaceful, but without a sense of reality, it can seriously hold you back from growing past pain. No one knows this like Joseph D'Agostino; LOSE
makes it overwhelmingly clear.