Monday, August 16, 2010

Coma Cinema - Stoned Alone

On title track “Stoned Alone,” South Carolinian Mat Cothran, aka Coma Cinema, repeats, amidst soulful backing vocals, the simple but compelling phrase, “I don’t believe in what I believed in for such a long time.” As this song and the rest of the album, Stoned Alone, seem to suggest, Cothran isn’t afraid to bring his introspection to the forefront; and fortunately for the listener, such personal reflection produces great art.

What is immediately noticeable on Stoned Alone is Cothran’s ability to make songs – despite their poignant subjects and deeply delicate lyrics – sound light and uplifting. He accomplishes such a feat, I believe, through his keen sense of pop arrangement, which feels inspired - at least in part - by pioneers of tight hooks and melodies like the Beach Boys and the Beatles, as well as more contemporary, introspective pop outfits like Yo La Tengo, the Magnetic Fields, and Elliot Smith.

In opener “In Lieu of Flowers,” for instance, the gentle guitar strum and subtle trumpet track allow the song to soar to impressive heights, and the subsequent track – “Black Birthday Cake” – chimes in triumphantly with a strong piano lead and cheerful hand claps. And in tracks like “Only,” “Come on Apathy!” and album highlight “Sucker Punch,” Cothran maintains his tight grip on structure, using well-placed vocal techniques and driving, varied percussion to make the contrast between somber and joyful all the more striking and effective.

With no track exceeding the three-minute mark, the album moves along quickly and cohesively. I’m not sure if that type of delivery was deliberate or not, but it would make sense if it was; such emotive songs, forwarded so concisely, encourage repeated listens. And frequent, mindful plays of Stoned Alone will reveal the underlying theme that the interplay between the music and lyrics so beautifully highlights: hopefulness during life’s bleakest moments. Download the album here.

Coma Cinema - Only from Tyler T Williams on Vimeo.


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