Cold Beaches
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Cold Beaches

Richmond, Virginia, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Richmond, Virginia, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
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"DMV Local Band Spotlight: Cold Beaches - "Aching""

Cold Beaches is an alternative rock group from Richmond, Virginia (so, to be fair, not technically DMV, but still local) fronted by vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter Sophia Nadia. I wrote about Sophia’s previous band, Model Train Wreck, several months ago in my first DMV Bands article, and their self-titled album is easily one of my favorite albums that I’ve heard from the DMV scene. They have gone on indefinite hiatus since that article was written, but Sophia is back with a new band: Cold Beaches. Honestly, though, I don’t know who the other members of Cold Beaches are, other than Sophia, but when I saw them live, Alex Despard played drums and Griffin Low (a fantastic bassist who played in Model Train Wreck and is in another DMV local band, The Firnats) played bass, so I’ll just say they’re Cold Beaches for this review.

I’m talking about Cold Beaches today because they have just embarked on a summer tour with Dropping Ugly (another band I’ve talked about in a DMV band article) and have released their debut LP “Aching,” which I picked up at their DC show last week, and want to give my review.

So here is my review of Cold Beaches’ “Aching:"

Since Sophia’s presence and voice (literally and musically) are so forward and evident throughout this record, it is admittedly hard for me to not think of her past project, Model Train Wreck, when listening to this album; but Cold Beaches is a different band.

While it still has the chimney, punkish, and sometimes dissonant guitar playing and the sorrowful lyrics, Cold Beaches is a much lower key band. MTW was active and upbeat, and most of Cold Beaches’ music is slower and calmer. I think the only real exception to this is maybe “Parliaments,” easily the most ‘Model Train Wreck-rescue’ song on the whole record. “Sick” also seemed kind of familiar to me, prior to listening to the album, but maybe I’m just insane and think I’ve heard it.

The biggest musical difference would be the addition of synths in a few of the tracks on this record, like for example, “Longing” and “Gone.” I admittedly I like it more on “Gone,” but regardless, the synths definitely add some musical depth and the melodies that play along with the guitars make for some very sonically interesting harmonies on the record.

The themes of loneliness and emptiness are pervasive throughout the album, with almost every track title being a reference to feeling emotionally destroyed or needing something and not being able to have it; again, with the only exception being “Parliaments,” which still contains dark lyrics like “And I will find a new way to deal with this / Smoking a pack of Parliaments.”

The concept of love is explored quite a bit throughout this record, a pretty normal topic to explore in music; in “Crushed” Sophia says “I don’t need anyone,” and then in “Wandering,” “I just want you to be proud of me / My heart has a hunger that I can’t feed,” and then in “Coping,” “Tell me if it’s too intense / I know love just don’t make sense.” This is something that I think Sophia has a good sense of and can write some pretty sad lyrics about, which I entirely mean as a compliment. Her lyrics may often have a similar theme or idea but it never feels like I'm just listening to the same song nine times. She approaches each track, lyrically, in a similar state of dissatisfaction with life and love, but that dissatisfaction manifests itself in different ways, and those translate into the different points of view on each track.

These themes of love and love lost are concurrent throughout the narratives of the songs and the record as a whole, and I would say that that is what the album is about. It says it all in the title: “Aching.” It’s a record about sadness and emotional pain. This isn’t an album that’s going to be popular as a party starter but I think that’s intentional. Sadness isn’t being celebrated; it’s being lamented. The instrumentation and the lyrics aren’t overly complex; they’re direct and straightforward, and I also think this is intentional. The album doesn’t try and confuse you or really make you contemplate anything other than your own life and emotions. We’re all aching in some capacity, and the aching can be physical or emotional.

I had been following this project since Sophia first uploaded the “Red” demo to the Cold Beaches BandCamp, a track that did not end up on this record, so I had already heard three tracks on this record before it was even released. I was excited after hearing “Aching,” and a live demo of what would become “Alone,” which is probably my favorite track on the whole record.

I’ve listened to this record a few times now and it has definitely grown on me. I’ve liked the album more the more times I’ve listened to it. It’s messy and dark and dissonant at times and sorrowful all the time. Seeing Cold Beaches perform live did not hurt my appreciation for this album either. There’s a lot of raw emotion that goes into their music and it translates into a fun live show.

My overall opinion, though, is that this a good debut for Cold Beaches. It sets the tone for what the band sounds like, and I am excited for further song and album releases from them in the future. They put a lot of effort into what they do and their authenticity.

Listen to the LP on Spotify (or buy it if you see them) and tell me what you think:

Did you love it? Hate it? What album should I review next?

Let me know in the comments below!

Thank you all for reading! - The Odyssey


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