Coach: Family Tree (Aeroplane)

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Coach: I Have Two Shadows
Coach: Family Tree (Aeroplane)

The thing about this Auckland band's often frustrating and ultimately dissatisfying debut album is that, even on repeat plays, you might be left with the impression there are two sides of the same brain in operation, but the better and more romantically inclined of them pulls the other equally promising wig-out rocking half back into line.

Guitarist/singer and predominant songwriter Abraham Kunin has a rich, restrained voice in many places (and a more than decent falsetto with actual strength), but as an album -- especially for a debut -- this feels unfocused, undernourished and often resolutely grounded in a couple of aspects of the Seventies.

Here there's a schism between slightly drifting and impressive prog (as on the six minute Can't Hide with a neat tempo change pushed by Jonathan Burgess' acoustic bass before seagull-cry guitar comes in) as opposed to a blues band desperate to escape into guitar solos (as on the lightly grunty but constrained Family Tree preceding it which reminds me of Space Farm from about '71 or some such).

When it comes to that gentle end of their emotional divide however, the ethereal sounds of the romantic, Pacific guitar chime'n'rolling tempo of I Have Two Shadows (with the reassuring line "it's not alright, but it's alright . . . with me") sounds like a destination reached and a profitable direction.

However when the slightly soulful Roulette Wheel which follows revolves around the repeated phrase "it's alright" you realise these lyrics work a limited palette. 

And while the instrumental Love Like Sleep at the end is slight -- and "slight" or "slightly" are words which ring like a refrain in my thinking about this -- it is rather lovely. However it appears before one of those increasingly tedious and pointless gaps in advance of a "bonus" track, here the spaghetti western-referencing Deadfoot which would have fitted in neatly earlier on. So you wonder why . . .

And Still Warm (something about being a child again, which sounds oh-so Seventies) has that tension/release of classic Gilmour/Floyd . . . and there's even a Still Warm Epilogue, a ripping guitars-in-space trip which is not that far shy of the 3.45 main track which spawns it.

So, which is it going to be . . .? 

At 39 minutes this feels like a debut EP with filler but there's just -- only just -- enough here to believe this band might come off more engrossing when they launch this album at Auckland's Wine Cellar on August 18 in advance of a national tour.

Frankly I would hope so. Because I grappled manfully with this for longer than many in recent years, hoping to like it more than I initially did, finding good things but -- as said -- ended up just frustrated by it.

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