Album Review: The Shorelines – Sides of Us

Historically, Santa Barbara has always been one of California’s most treasured beach cities, a coastal safe haven full of life, culture and vibrant youth. Whether residing in this special place or simply passing by, it’s hard to ignore the beauty it beholds. Nestled in between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains, it’s a fertile breeding ground for artists in many different avenues, including up and coming psych rock band The Shorelines.

Now two records in, bandmates Maxton Schulte and Justin Kass have well established ties to both their home and their musical style, which is best described as a melting pot of influences that typically nod to ‘60s giants like The Beach Boys and Cream, as well as ‘90s surf revivalists like The Mermen. Their music illustrates these qualities not just aesthetically but also in terms of composition, structure and atmosphere, and their musical background acknowledges that. Scroll for a while on their Instagram page and you will see these guys constantly surround themselves with countless different styles of music: incorporating jazz, the blues, rap and infinite other pallets.

Just six months after dropping their debut album Somewhere In Time, the duo has returned with another short, serene group of songs, building on their previous experiments in bolder and more precise fashion. Their new release, Sides of Us, acknowledges their universal approach to music while remaining true to the their signature style.

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           The Shorelines – Sides of Us

On Sides of Us, The Shorelines continue to embrace their psychedelic roots, but their second go-around is also far more personal and charming. On this record, there is a new found intimacy, which perhaps can be attributed to the album’s recording process. Retreating to La Casa Grande, a remote house on family property in Rancho Dos Pueblos, the band spent a period of six nights and five days straight working on finishing the album. Seven out the final eight tracks would end up being recorded during these sessions, largely shaping the overall sound of the project.

Sides of Us features artistic advancements on multiple fronts. An amplified rhythm section makes it a much punchier listen than its predecessor, especially on the opening cut “Hesitant Heart.” The song kicks the record off on a strong note, featuring an aggressive bassline that makes for some of the most infectious vibes on the album. The grooves continue on “The Kármán Line” and “Lips”, bringing out a funky side of the band that we only heard in small doses on their previous record.

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To combat the tracks that lean heavily on rhythm, the duo delivers a pair of minimal, stripped back guitar cuts with “Can You Feel Me” and “Psychedelic Rhodes”, the latter of which recalls The Flaming Lips. Though the vocals on this track leave much to be desired, the song evokes an intense, synthetic feel that isn’t found elsewhere on the album. Among other great moments are the intertwining melodies on “Fostering Thoughts”, which include a surreal guitar solo that feels like an acid trip under a waterfall. The echoing lyric, “searching for the right feeling,” prompts a lingering feeling of emptiness.

This sense of longing culminates on “Stay”, the record’s climax and come down. It starts off as a groovy beach tune, with Schulte exploring the familiar tropes of isolation and escapism. The track is intensified by some djembe drums, only before erupting into an intoxicating montage of psychedelic ruckus. It’s the perfect closer to the album, capturing all the key elements that summarize The Shorelines’ potential: captivating percussion, dreamy guitar riffs and pure oceanic atmosphere.

The extended jams of “Hesitant Heart” and “Stay” end up being some of the album’s most vibrant moments, but on Sides of Us the band proves they are as comfortable creating short, catchy instrumental passages as much as they are long ones. It’s one of the many reasons why Sides of Us is not just artistic progress but a creative success. As many young groups do, The Shorelines have plenty of room to grow in their songwriting and production. These guys are just getting their feet wet when it comes to crafting entire albums, but their skill set as musicians demonstrates that they have the aptitude to continue experimenting and bringing forth new ideas, even if they they stay within the same surf rock bubble.

Favorite Tracks: Hesitant Heart, Fostering Thoughts, Stay

SCORE: 7.5/10

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All images taken from The Shorelines Facebook page. For a list of upcoming show dates and more band news, follow The Shorelines on Instagram or visit their website. Enjoy Sides of Us on all streaming platforms today.

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