Shore Rites, 'Shore Rites' | Album Review | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Shore Rites, 'Shore Rites'

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Shore Rites, Shore Rites
  • Shore Rites, Shore Rites

(Self-released, digital)

The interesting part about starting a band at the precipice of a global pandemic is wondering when you'll be able to actually perform in front of an audience. Shore Rites' self-titled debut EP hit the internet on March 3, about a week before the U.S. joined the rest of the world in the coronavirus chaos. How's that for timing?

The project, which started as a solo act from formerly Florida-based singer-songwriter Matt Serrano, recently solidified as a four-piece with drummer Nate Meunier, lead guitarist Matt Gardner and bassist/synthist Richard Berry. When the quartet will actually make a live appearance is unknown — but lovers of sprawling dream-pop with a post-rock bent should take note of this group.

Serrano played and recorded each fuzzy chord, stoic bass line and everything in between on the five-track record. A dreary pall hangs over his yearning, atmospheric rock. The tracks flow exceedingly well across the EP's fleeting 16-minute run time, each one a nugget of narcotic bliss.

Though it's strong in character and sound, the album does come off a bit like a dry run. It's rough around the edges, albeit in a charming way. A palpable mood of contemplation and muddled emotion smooths what the EP lacks in acuteness.

"And Over." opens the record with a partly cloudy vibe. It's twee gone electric on an overcast day. Bright rhythm chords contrast with Serrano's stony vocals.

Electronic drumbeats, used throughout the release, feature prominently on "Changes" and send icy blasts through the mid-tempo tune. Serrano disrupts the number with a jagged, shouted chorus, reassuring the song's subject, "You're all right!"

A wall-of-sound crescendo delivers the surf-tinged "Tell Me Not." Tension builds to a molten guitar riff, which bleeds into a vortex caused by a sudden sinkhole.

Bold tambourine and hot jabs of electronic bass drum rattle the opening moments of "Last Train." The song features a circular set of lyrics ("I don't wanna go to work / My love / Out on the last train") that vary slightly as they wind back and forth. Along with a cacophony of blaring guitar, vocal layers — each more strained and overblown than the last — pile onto the anxiety-addled tune.

The EP closes with its strongest cut, "Nights to Remember." It's a beatless slow jam in which flaming chords circle Serrano's agonized wails. The mood is one of deep, penetrating fervor.

For a first outing, Shore Rites succeed in establishing a compelling atmosphere. The debut implies good things about the band's future and sets the stage for a much grander LP down the line.

Shore Rites is available at shorerites.bandcamp.com.