Cold Soda Club has been making their rounds in the local scene for the past few years. This dynamic quartet of Tyler Maxon (vocals), Trevor Damkot (guitar), Matt Theobald (bass/backing vocals), and Lucas Goebel (drums/backing vocals) is largely known for their extended cover sets. However, they’ve begun to reach a point in their career where their original tracks have become more prominent in performances set as well. Essentially, they’ve adapted influences from indie rock, funk, R&B, blues, and pop for a groove-heavy sonic amalgamation.
The band’s debut EP, Passing Greenbush, dropped in 2018. However, that hasn’t slowed the band in the slightest. In between playing gigs and navigating the post-grad life, these four gentlemen have been hard at work creating a body of work that entirely eclipses their previous release.
Passing Greenbush was certainly a promising EP, both in its strengths and weaknesses. It struggled as many EPs tend to – trying to showcase the depth of the band’s abilities in a format that seemed perhaps too brief. The collection was varied in style, but Cold Soda Club was still navigating the nuances of their sound.
As such, the band spent the past year carefully crafting their follow-up full-length. Some of the songs were written in Florida’s Winter Garden; others were finalized just weeks ago in-studio with Justin Hind at Paradyme Productions in Madison who produced, mixed, and mastered the songs.
The result is Swim to That, a thirteen-track powerhouse of a debut album. It’s clear the band’s songwriting has matured in nearly every way on these tracks, both musically and lyrically. Cold Soda Club hasn’t lost any ounce of their upbeat indie-pop approach, but the execution this time around is that of a band that takes itself seriously and is aiming big.
“Dark Space opens” the album with a bass-heavy groove and staccato guitar riff. There’s a definite Red Hot Chili Peppers vibe at play to some degree, though it’d be remiss to claim the band is simply borrowing from their influences. Cold Soda Club mixes in a fair bit of pop and soul elements here as well to keep things interesting. It wouldn’t feel out of place to hear an entire brass section fill out the back of the song. Ultimately, the track sets a precedent for the rest of the album.
The album is laced with copious amounts of harmonies and vocal layers which lend themselves toward a more dynamic listening experience. “I Don’t Really Know, I Can’t Really See” is a perfect example. It’s somewhat of a standard alternative rock track, but these small additions showcase the intricacy of the production at play.
“Catapult” is certainly a highlight track, and it features even more of these powerful production elements. Vocals start out filtered, paired with a soothing electronic piano riff. Add in a couple more filters, effects, and finger snaps and you’re embraced by a song that’s got the makings of a pop hit. While it’s certainly a change of pace for the band, they pull it off well and have clearly made good use of their resources in the studio.
The pace changes yet again on the title track. This time around, it’s a lounge/coffee shop type vibe. It’s an airy, relaxing feeling that is a surprising direction for a band known for being the life of the party. With that said, the groove hasn’t left and both drums and bass provide a tight groove that keeps the track moving.
Cold Soda Club has played their fair share of Weezer cover, and “Gold Lines” seems to borrow at least some influence from the indie rock mainstays. Of course, they’ve taken this influence and stirred it thoroughly into a cocktail of motown and R&B. Backing vocals here during the chorus are a nice touch that helps round the song off.
“Future Reimagined” was released as a single, and it’s definitely worthy of that honor. To some degree, it’s a microcosm of the highlights of the album: the bass pops, the guitar riffs are crystalline, and the drumming is tight. Vocal production is once again excellent. Put simply, it’s a thought-out track that is undeniably catchy. It has all the signs of a mature band, and it’s proof that Cold Soda Club have lapped their EP several times over on this release.
“Future Reimagined” is followed by the instrumental segue, “Dancers and Senators”. The track feels like a mini jam session, though it’s much more coordinated. Here, there aren’t too many effects or extra production elements; it’s instead a showcase of the musicianship of the band’s instrumental core.
As the album approaches its close, the sensual “Upshot” enters the the mix. It’s as if “Colors” from Passing Greenbrush grew up, with the same groove and swirling guitar at play. It’s one of the most passionate vocal performances on the album as well, so it’s ultimately a shame the track is just over two minutes long.
The closing combination of “Frudder House” and “Finale” definitely doesn’t disappoint. “Frudder House” is an upbeat, beachy track that feels similar to “Future Reimagined” in some respects. It’s ultimately a strong demonstration of the band’s rhythmic precision. The transition to “Finale” is seamless, and it does indeed layer in “Future Reimagined” and elements from several other songs. Conceptually, this is a great end to the album that manages to tie all the tracks together in a cohesive manner.
In short, Swim to That is the perfect evolution from what we saw on Passing Greenbush. This time around, Tyler Maxon and Matt Theobald shared lyrical responsibilities, and this is one major area where the group manages to quickly surpass their EP. While fun moments are in no short supply, the growth of the band’s lyrical subject matter is worth giving them a second chance if you’d previously written them off. As expected, the band’s rhythmic core of Matt Theobald and Lucas Goebel continues to be essential to the strength of the tracks, and neither drums nor bass ever feel overbearing to the melodic elements of the songs. Trevor Damkot’s guitar leads span genres and decades with ease. Overall, it’s a strong debut album that should dispel any doubt of the capabilities of these four men. The album does have a few weaker tracks but even these still excel in terms of production and overall composition when compared to the EP.
You’ll be able to catch Cold Soda Club at several shows throughout the summer, where they’ll be performing songs off the new record (and likely some fan favorites as well). For a full list of performances, you can follow them on Facebook.