WRITTEN BY: Vince Barreras
The debut record for Augusta Koch’s new project Gladie is out via Lame-O Records, the popular Philadelphia indie rock label. Safe Sins is 10 tracks of heart wrenching honesty by the former Cayetana front woman, and it will leave fans wanting more due to the infectious songwriting and slight nod to 90s alternative and indie rock. This record is honest, vulnerable, and above all, beautifully crafted and familiar that any previous fans of Cayetana should jump on board and listen right away. What was once a solo endeavor for Koch turned into a project featuring Matt Schimelfenig (Three Man Cannon), Ian Farmer (Slaughter Beach, Dog, Modern Baseball), and Pat Conaboy (The Spirit of the Beehive). With these new collaborators comes the new full-length release that makes for one of the best records of the year thus far.
For fans of Cayetana’s previous two albums, this release should sound familiar to listeners. The warm blend of indie rock and pop elements sound great and the chemistry amongst the members is tight. Koch’s distinct vocal tone is present and has enough power and presence to be able to deliver songs that range from the more punk inspired energy (“When You Leave the Sun”) to the more intimate ones (“Choose”). All of which are enjoyable in their own right, but really showcase the songwriter’s diverse attention to songwriting and overall instrumentation. No two songs are exactly alike but they fit so well under the universe this record has created.
“Pray” is the opening track that begins with an ambient keyboard build up until Augusta Koch’s vocals enter the mix. Her tone is intimate, sincere, and above all, introspective and unapologetic. “Let this shame, just f*ck off today” is a strong indicator to the types of emotions and attitude that will be conveyed in the next nine songs. Once the mood is set perfectly by the opener, “When You Leave The Sun” introduces the instrumentation of the rest of the band to come into the fold. With crashing drums, and an indie rock groove to complement the soaring vocals of Koch, the band erupts into a danceable tune that really shifts 360 degrees from the previous track. This kind of sudden mode change works perfectly because it allows the listener to breathe a little bit while we move along through the track listing.
“A Pace Far Different,” which served as the projects first single, finds a balance between moods of the first two tracks; it is something of a 90s indie rock sound. Its soft instrumentation accompanies Koch’s smooth vocal melodies with backing vocals of the other band members that creates a pleasant song that delivers heart felt lyrics of feeling trapped within one’s own mind. “Twenty Twenty” continues the previous songs melody and subject matter where Koch looks within herself as a way of introspection towards attitudes of anger and loneliness, but above all optimism. Its concluding Side A track “Even at Your Easel” uses an electronic drum track that sees the group move more towards electronic instrumentation to create a pleasant on the ears track.
Side B features back to back “Cosmic Joke,” and “Paper Bags,” two more songs that carry an upbeat and soft indie rock style that build off the mood of the previous couple tracks. “Paper Bags” in particular is a song that cuts close to the core of the albums theme, and by the lyrics “It’s wrong to expect that much from someone you don’t really know.” It tells of not relying on others for things you have to face and conquer as an individual, powerful words to live, and Koch addressing them head on is incredibly empowering. “Overlooking The Lake” and “Parlor” combine the smooth tone melodies of indie rock to create really heartfelt songs. “Choose” serves as the closing track, and to describe it as anything other than a really honest, and heartfelt song would be wrong. Leaving Koch and her guitar front and center as she really begins to unload in a really therapeutic kind of way. It’s a fitting conclusion to the record, where the soft-spoken vocals, and instrumentation rings out a few loose notes and slowly fades away into silence.
Safe Sins is a marvelous debut album from the Philly artist, who should have no problem continuing on her own path in her post-Cayetana career. The songwriting is honest and heartfelt, while maintaining an identity that is unique, and also captivating to the listener. These songs are very well thought-out and structured. On top of the great musicians behind the project, it just makes you wonder what the future of the project will hold. If Safe Sins is any indication, the project should enjoy wonderful success moving forward.
Safe Sins is available now on Lame-O Records, catch Gladie for their record release show on April 10 at Boot and Saddle!
For Fans of: the linked bands above, Lame-O Records
- When You Leave The Sun
- A Pace Far Different
- Twenty Twenty
- Even At Your Easel
- Cosmic Joke
- Paper Bags
- Overlooking The Lake