Winning over listeners by way of Houston, Texas, is the 3-piece alternative band Proverbial Cool Aid with their sophomore full-length studio album, 2023.
Featuring singer-songwriter Damen Martin (vocals/guitar), Mark Rutledge (bass), and Gabby Duplenne (drums), Proverbial Cool Aid has quite an impressive track record. From opening for Paul Wall and Greate White to headlining across the country, Proverbial Cool Aid is now embarking on an Eastern US Tour and is eager to head back to open for Sponge at the Whisky A GoGo in April 2024.
Earlier this month, Proverbial Cool Aid released their sophomore full-length album entitled 2023, and it marks the end of a year of recording between Damen Martin and producer Josh Applebee at Wire Road Studios in Houston. Here's what to expect from the new record.
2023 starts with the mid-tempo and reflective intro track, "30 Years Gone," opening with smooth electric guitar hums and a gentle organ in the background, reminiscent of the soul and emotion in Bruce Springsteen's "Factory." Yet, Proverbial Cool Aid ups the feeling and energy on the hook to keep us locked in, swaying in the breeze with serene instrumentation that feeds the soul.
Onto track number two, "It Goes Sometimes," Proverbial Cool Aid pounces through the speakers with crunchy electric guitars, a thick drum beat, and growling bass licks that grab our undivided attention. As Martin's crisp vocals reflect on the comings and goings of life and his ongoing passion for someone special, Proverbial Cool Aid increases the energy to keep us moving and grooving. It's a fiery and upbeat track that'll leave you feeling better than you did before.
With the album's third track, "The Stand," Martin's tender vocals softly open the song. At the same time, bright piano melodies linger in the background alongside crunchy electric guitars, groovy bass licks, and upbeat drums. Martin's sweet lyrics depict the passionate emotions of yearning to be with someone who isn't far out of reach, something many of us can relate to. It's another uplifting track that keeps a smile on our faces and a groove through our feet.
On the album's fourth track, "My Days," we sink into a hazy, reflective tune with Martin's velvety vocals, Rutledge's subtle bass licks, and Duplenne's downtempo percussion. This song is packed with honest, relatable lyrics that reflect on the days wasted and given away, praying for direction to get through the rest of them. It's a refreshing track that reminds us to make each day count, no matter where we are on our journey.
Reaching the halfway point with track number five, "Houston Time," Proverbial Cool Aid sinks into their Texas roots with a country-infused banger that reminds us to take time and smell the roses, just as they do on Houston time. This song is packed with grooves and subtle, jazzy nods. Martin's twangy vocals and guitar, paired with Rutledge's thick bass and Duplenne's rhythmic drums, make it a treat for the ears.
Feeling "Sick?" Find your pick-me-up with Proverbial Cool Aid's large and in-charge sixth track. Gradually opening with heavy electric guitars, riveting bass licks, and pounding drums, the 3-piece explodes halfway through the way with ample power and might. This exhilarating instrumental showcases a heavier side of Proverbial Cool Aid that many listeners will significantly appreciate.
Proverbial Cool Aid invites Vince B and JQ Musiq to hop on the album's seventh track, "Sick & Pool Hall," an elongated rendition of the sixth track but with the featured artist's vocal prowess. As we approach the song's halfway mark, Vince B's sultry vocals drip through the speakers with rich harmonies, while JQ Musiq closes the track with his heavy-hitting bars to infuse a dash of hip-hop into this eclectic record. This might be our personal highlight of the album.
Upping the passion and feel-good vibes is the eighth track, "Grandpa (Tell Me 'bout the Good Old Days)," Proverbial Cool Aid launches the tune with beaming organ-like keys and country-rock/alternative instrumentals for a well-rounded feel. As Martin expresses his desire to return to simpler times, courtesy of Grandpa's timeless tales, Proverbial Cool Aid loads our speakers with nostalgia and the relatable notion of navigating the complex modern world.
Fun fact: the album's outro track "West La" was the first song recorded from Proverbial Cool Aid after a 12-year hiatus. And it's easy to tell why the band saved this track for last. It's oozing with soul, from the rich organs to the toe-tapping beat and Martin's dreamy lyrics of finding himself in West LA. It not only reminds us to chase our dreams but to stick to our passions and roll with the punches because anything can happen in "West La."
With nine wholly different yet cohesive tracks, three talented musicians, and one killer album, Proverbial Cool Aid puts on quite a show in their sophomore LP, 2023. Hear it yourself and find the album on all digital streaming platforms, soon to be released on vinyl.