I feel terrible. Coyote Kid’s 2019 release, ‘The Skeleton Man’, has been sitting on my desk for months. I wish I had a good excuse as to why I haven’t reviewed this one and wish I could blame it on my move to the new house or the shutdown of my life due to COVID-19 but, the truth is, I think I was just intimidated. Coyote Kid used to be known as Marah in the Mainsail and I loved them after catching them live. They were actually in the running for one of my favorite sets last year. I had amped up ‘The Skeleton Man’ in my mind and I think I was just afraid of a let down because, let’s be honest, let downs and disappointment are not a good thing for my already crippling mental health. This mindset ends tonight. I’m finally sitting down at my desk and although I was hesitant, I hit play and let the music take over my house.
“The New Dark Age” kicks off this album in just the way I wanted. I got to know this band for being theatrical, cinematic, and, well, just a little bit over the top and that’s exactly what you get from this opening number before the album swiftly moves onto “Femme Fatale”. This track instantly gave me the motivation to do this review that I had seemingly been lacking. The strumming guitar mixed with the hard-hitting drums and a vocal styling that only Coyote Kid could pull off, I realized that I had been worried for nothing and although they changed their name, this is the same band I fell in love with last year when I saw them live.
Continuing on in their own distinct fashion, “Tough Kids” starts off sounding like a western movie soundtrack. You can almost see the tumbleweed rolling across the stage before Austin Durry’s vocals come in with a little Dave Matthews tone (don’t laugh and don’t judge– it’s seriously just a comparison that I couldn’t shake) while having this odd metal meets indie meets… well, I don’t know what the hell it is but I love it. Each song starts a different way telling a complete story and whereas “Tough Kids” started off as a western, “Prowler” kicks off with the steady and heavy sound of a kick drum while vocals danced above. There’s something haunting about this track that is almost a little bit creepy. Not going to lie, I had chills running up my arms as I played through this track and it honestly left me a bit lost for words.
“Strange Days” was a stark change from the previous songs due to the tempo. Things slow way down and every note seems to drag on a little bit creating a completely different soundscape than before. Even when the entire band joins in, there’s something ridiculously cinematic about this song. I could see it playing on a big screen as characters walked through a darkened street looking for themselves. Again, the image is dramatic but so is the music is clearly it’s doing exactly what it’s supposed to do.
Cassandra Valentine’s vocals kick off “Dark Science”. Her voice is silky and smooth but has a hint of darkness and intrique behind it. Although her voice can be heard multiple times throughout this album, “Dark Science” truly showcases her beautiful and unique tone. An epic bass line takes this song over creating yet another eerie soundscape that is nothing short of chill inducing. Just when I got settled into this new atmosphere created by Coyote Kid, the album shifts with the progression into “Electric Lover”. Cassandra’s voice continues to keep me in awe but instead of the darkness she had in “Dark Science”, she seems to have a bit more of a painful yet playful vibe to it until you are bombarded with this almost viking like chant. This song is all over the place in the best way possible and, if I had to tell you to listen to just one song by Coyote Kid to kind of get the just of them, this would be it.
Up next is “Vision in Black”. This track seems to split the difference between “Dark Science” and “Electric Lover”. You can clearly hear different elements that had been present in the previous two songs but you hear them in a different light. The passion conveyed in Austin’s vocals is stunning. Absolutely stunning.
Just when I thought I had heard it all, “Destroyer of Worlds” comes in with a start that instantly reminded me of Gogol Bordello minus the copious amount of wine. Gypsy-esque while staying so distinctively Coyote Kid, this song had a playful energy to it without coming off as too in your face or too chaotic. Same can be said about “Undertaker”. The energy of this song is infectious and although it seems to lean closer to the chaotic side of things throughout the track, there’s never a point where the band seems to be out of control. It’s a fine line that Coyote Kid straddles and they straddle it absolutely perfectly. “Undertaker” has a very anthemic vibe to it but still brings the drama and passion that you would expect.
Austin’s voice feels much more mainstream as “Backbone” kicks off. His voice is powerful but not demanding. The way he slides from word to word is absolutely amazing. With Cassandra joining in here and there and Austin, John and Kian holding it down on the instrumentation, this was an instant favorite of mine. Maybe it was because of mood, maybe it was because of the lyrics (more on that later), regardless, this song got a few listens before I moved onto “Run”.
“Run” starts off as a whisper. A beautiful, creepy, haunting and odd whisper that pulls you in. It’s almost like magic. I literally felt myself moving closer to my speakers just to get the full effect. Gang vocals are just the icing on the cake for this song. Although I kept waiting for a giant climax or a big scare, the fact that never came and instead was given constant swells of sound and energy, is just a sign of the pure genius behind this act.
Closing out this work of art is the title track, “Skeleton Man”. I was expecting a giant clash of sounds for the ending track but instead, I got something peaceful, calming and, well, sweet.
I wanted to talk about the lyrics with this review so badly but felt that would cheat you. When you read the liner notes on this album, you get a short paragraph with each track that explains what’s going on in the story (this is a true concept album from a concept band). I feel like me even giving my insight to the magical words would ruin everything so I’m going to leave this in your hands. Please go buy this album. Don’t just listen online, actually buy it because reading through the story as the songs go by is a truly magical experience.
I seriously can not apologize enough to these guys for the delay on this review. I was worried, I was scared and, for what? This band is full of so much talent, so much creativity, and so much passion– me being worried was just freaking silly. I also apologize to my co-workers. I will be listening to this album all day tomorrow on repeat and at full volume because, well, it’s a 10 out of 10.
My Favorite Track(s): Literally all of them
For Fans Of: Movies; Drama; Storylines; Creativity
Dance-ability: 6.5 out of 10
What My Cats Thought Of It: The cats were nowhere to be found. I think I scared them because I kept rocking back and forth and screaming “YES!”
How Badly I Want To See This Performed Live: 11 out of 10
My Overall Rating: 10 out of 10
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