Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Safe's Cinematic Ocean on LP

I think this is the last LP from my Syracuse stack that I need to discuss. I have a few more 7" singles that have snuck into my hands over the last few weeks, such as the Steven Douglas Wolfe collection I received just a couple of weeks ago. But I received this particular pile of LPs way back at the beginning of the summer and I was shocked and dismayed that a couple of titles slipped through the cracks.

I listened to this LP, Safe's Cinematic Ocean, right after Ulf Oesterle from Aux Records gave it to me. Actually, he gave me three copies of the album, all different colors. I've included two of the colors here--I never saw the third pressing because Shayne at Tenacious Sound grabbed it before I could open it. So I don't have the "complete" collection. But I do have an extra copy!

I'm not sure why I saved this LP for last. Of all the Syracuse records I've listened from L.R.S.. bettyElm and Aux, this one is perhaps the most polished, most professional and most likely to be heard on a college station--and I don't mean any of this as a diss to Safe. Over the last few months I've been trying to get a handle on the Syracuse music scene, and for the most part the DIY/indie rock influences run strong in Salt City. It's rough around the edges, passionate, retro--not that different than other medium-sized cities in the US--but there's more of a sense of fun here.

Cinematic Ocean, however, is dense and textured indie rock quartet music, a couple of guitars and a rhythm section and vocals that are earnest and clear without being too poppy. For a debut album it's very consistent, with each track maintaining the same high level of energy; it's an indie rock version of Damn the Torpedoes. There's a seriousness and dedication at work here--this quartet has mastered the concept of sounding like themselves, finding their sonic signature and making songs that sound like, well, Safe. That's something a lot of bands don't get right for a few albums, after they've earned their freedom by selling a few millions CDs.

In researching the band and this album, I made an interesting discovery--Cinematic Ocean was released in November of 2012, more than four years ago. Still, it's in the new release section at The Sound Garden, the record store here in Armory Square. I was also playing this LP in Shayne's store a few days ago and someone walked in and immediately asked if this was Safe. In a way Safe represents the great Syracuse hope, a local band that has garnered a great local rep and is perhaps ready to push for bigger exposure. If so, it's been four years already, so I hope we get that awesome sophomore breakthrough album--for all I know it's already out--and then I can say you heard about it here first.

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