Dada Trash Collage: Cool Waves, Bad Days Review
While being one of the Twin Cities’ most promising new artists, Dada Trash Collage often gets lumped in the “sounds like Animal Collective” genre of noise pop. But in large part it’s a reference that hasn’t been entirely undeserved. Dada (William Freed) has crafted a good number of beats that sound indebted, if not downright similar to the influential indie experimenters. And listening to the first track on his new record, Cool Waves, Bad Days, Freed does little to disabuse that notion. “World’s Fair 1964” is a mishmash of vaguely tropical beats with circus organ mimicking synth beats that wouldn’t sound too out of place on Merriweather Post Pavilion, especially considering that when he sings, Freed sounds not unlike AC vocalist Panda Bear. Judging Cool Waves on that track alone, however, would be a mistake, as from track two onward Freed places more distance between himself and his influences – finally taking bolder steps towards defining a unique sound of his own.
And perhaps the biggest differentiator that Cool Waves has to offer is its titular track, which combines elements of experimental noise with beach rock – ending up sounding like a fuzzed out jam for the outer space surfers of the future. And in a unique twist, about two thirds of the way though “Cool Waves, Bad Days,” the song neatly morphs from sunny guitar jangles to a chugging, sinister piece of moody post-punk. To say Cool Waves just gets better from there on wouldn’t exactly be true (the titular tune sets a pretty high bar) but the other seven tracks include a number of strong offerings as well. “Moon” sets up some sublimely catchy piano hooks and continuously obliterates them with muscular synth blasts (not to mention weird Darth Vader breathing). “Construction Work” achieves a sort of piano-driven psychedelic melancholy that is set against the canvas of a lot of background noise. And another standout, “Height of All Modesty” utilizes what sound to me like a recorded sample of shoveling snow off of a sidewalk.
Throughout all of Cool Waves, Freed also notably centers his songs on his lyrical content, as opposed to many of his brethren who seem focus on sounds rather than meanings. And while the record’s lyrical content is largely well thought out, it does occasionally dip towards the more emo end of the spectrum with lines like “now I know I’ll die alone on the moon” (from “Moon”) coming off as overly melodramatic. At times Waves also seems like it could benefit from a producer who can coax more dynamic range out of the tracks. While Waves definitely has its lulls and climaxes, it generally seems like the scope of their impact could be a lot for fully realized – “Height of All Modesty” in particular seems like it has a potential that hasn’t quite been reached.
Still, there is no denying that Cool Waves is a great listen as well as William Freed’s most accomplished work so far. It is to Freed’s credit that the room for improvement on his album is largely superficial – each of the songs are built on rock solid pop platforms that clearly demonstrate the craftsman’s gift for complex, multi-faceted melodies. Freed has worked his way to the forefront of the Twin Cities’ incredibly talented noise/pop scene, and Cool Waves, Bad Days is a testament that that is exactly where he belongs.
— Jon Behm
Cool Waves, Bad Days is out now and can be purchased here
Dada Trash Collage: Bandcamp