Progress is a fickle mistress… sometimes, she hardly moves, inching her way towards some untold final destination that we hope is close to our intended purpose. Other times, you can’t catch her, and your every move feels motivated by some primal force, an earthly energy that lines up every shot and mows ‘em down without missing a beat. What is undeniable is that progress, REAL progress, can only be made by putting in the work and keeping to the task you set in front of you, never becoming distracted with all that is going on in the background.
Corpus Christi rockers Lost and Faded know all about that. In the less than two years since they formed, they’ve released multiple short EP’s (they call them 3P’s, as in 3 songs apiece), played shows all over South Texas, and have tempered their sound and personality into a formidable weapon. On their latest 3P, EmOcean (available on 7/11/19), they swing for the fences, and with great success… after listening to a pre-release copy, we feel comfortable calling it a home-run effort.
The title track is a gust of 90’s and early 00’s alternative nostalgia, its warm breeze enveloping the listener and inviting them to sit in the warm sand for a spell. Rene Vela, our six-string Poseidon, controls the wind and waves with his consistent right hand picking during the verses and the tremble of his chords during the chorus. There is a desperation to his playing, a synergy between his guitar and the rhythm section that feels like a hand reaching out, waiting to be pulled in to the safety of the shore. Vocalist Mitch Hackleman shows that he’s poised to deliver his breakout performance from the first note, his voice measured and strong, confident in its ability to hit the high notes and let the lower tones flow freely. He finds a comfortable balance between force and finesse, a skill which serves a rock vocalist well when developed early on.
On “Instant Regret”, the band brings in Shattered Sun vocalist Marcos Leal to lend some lead to their heaviest track yet, and he doesn’t disappoint. The screams that harmonize so well with Hackleman’s poignant lyrics create an emotional tempest that darken the sky and rock the seas of EmOcean, sending swells to assault the once-peaceful shores. Bassist JP Benavides and drummer Mykey Garcia take their roles to a whole new level on the track, brutally bashing and plucking to give real weight to the tragic tale of last-minute regret being sung by Hackleman. The uneasiness in Vela’s chord progressions are enough to make the listener seasick, the fear of regret and failure palpable in the desperation of his playing.
It is on the final track, “You Are So Loved”, that the band reaches Category 5 strength. Beyond the moving lyricism, proof in itself of their maturity and elevation, it serves as the high water mark of their abilities. It borders on pop-rock at times, mostly because it’s so damn catchy, but the gravity of its message make it akin to a watchtower over dark waters. It exists to remind us of the shore and the promise of a safe haven from the restless waters and relentless wind. Hackleman is in rare form, delivering a performance worthy of a bigger stage. The collective brilliance of the band is undeniable, and their eagerness to create music much bigger than their current circumstances must yield fruit sooner rather than later. Songs like “You Are So Loved” are career songs… they’re good enough to be played 40 years from now without sounding any less important or relevant. The message of remembering how many people love and care about us, even in our darkest moments, is timeless, and new fans of the band will undoubtedly appreciate the sincerity of their positive message and head-on approach to the difficulties we face in everyday life.
The universal appeal of a band like Lost & Faded is hard to deny. They’re not trying to reinvent the wheel, and they don’t claim to be the saviors of rock-n-roll. It’s hard not to support a blue-collar band with a strong worth ethic and zero ego, especially when they play to their strengths and constantly work to elevate themselves. We’re fortunate to have several of those here in Corpus Christi, but EmOcean is a snapshot of a band that is quickly outgrowing its digs, and as they stretch their musical legs and flex those technical abilities, they’ll attract the attention of a larger crowd. Lost & Faded is a band to keep your eye on, and with 3P releases like EmOcean coming out steadily, it won’t be long until a major label discovers the South Texas treasure we are all enjoying.
Speaking about the quality of their work on the release, guitarist Rene Vela says “EmOcean is definitely our greatest work yet as a band. We put all we had into the making of it from start to finish.”
“It is a piece of art that we put a lot of intention into”, adds frontman Mitch Hackleman. “EmOcean deals with the subjects of depression, suicide and hope. I hope that anyone dealing with these things can relate and will follow us to the last track, “You Are So Loved”. It deals with working through these self deprecating ideas and eventually arriving at the truth of the matter: you are loved. That’s what we hope people take away from listening.”
“The music comes in waves of emotion, which is what brought up the name for this 3P”, says Vela.
Speaking about the recording of their latest effort, Hackleman tells us “The recording process was smooth as butter. This is our second record working with Mason Shirley of Sound Machine Studios, and the chemistry was still there. We imagine it will be for many more 3Ps to come.”
Check out EmOcean when it drops on 7/11. If you want to see what Lost & Faded brings to the stage, catch them on July 12th at House of Rock with Shattered Sun, Memories in Broken Glass, and The Southern Revival!