Soaring in from Thunder Bay, Ontario, the versatile alternative rock band The Zeldas take us to the ocean with their 8-track debut album entitled 'Cool Waves.'
Inspired by American psychedelic rock and British shoegaze, The Zeldas' frontman Mike Luce has been hard at work over the past few years formulating a record that would not only be the band's big debut but would showcase their artistic versatility and conceptual approaches. The result is the gripping record 'Cool Waves,' which falls somewhere between mid 60s surf rock and psychedelic alternative.
Without further ado, the album kicks off with the introductory track, "Black Spruce," which opens with a mellow and calming keyboard melody alongside a haunting and reverbed electric guitar that sweetens the background with this shimmering coastal ambiance. As Luce makes his mysterious and chilling vocal appearance, he delivers an incredibly rich and compelling psychedelic approach that's perfectly contrasted by the soothing keyboard, downtempo drums, and dreamy guitars. This track is sort of like waking up from a nightmare, feeling down and out, and knowing that something positive is on the horizon.
Onto the next track, "Ringing Bell," this song opens with a wave crashing on the shore while The Zeldas' blast through our speakers with their bright and beaming instrumentals that serve incredible energy. There's something about Mike Luce's attitude and poise that's wildly irresistible, especially as The Zeldas' power through with a hazy instrumental breakdown to enhance Luce's chilling and low vocal stylings. We love the wavy background synths that fill the song with this dreamy appeal, especially as Mike Luce continues to pour his sweet, low, and sultry vocals over our ears for us to hold and savor. Towards the outro, The Zeldas have us floating above this stratosphere with their intricate and complex soundscapes.
Moving into "Late Summer Rain," the same hazy and reverbed guitar drenches our speakers in a lustful and hazy atmosphere with a soothing array of drums that tap their way to our hearts. We adore Mike Luce's delayed vocals that enhance the song to feel like a dream, or more intriguingly, a trip. As The Zeldas begin to drench our speakers in their soothing transitions from major to minor, they leave us drifting on Cloud 9. If there's one word to describe The Zeldas' music, it's transcendent; Mike Luce has done an incredible job of portraying his instrumental associations with the ocean while rounding out the sonic atmosphere with hints of shoegaze and psychedelia.
Reaching the album's halfway point with "Sunshine Sunflower," this seems to be the album's turning point, as the track opens with a bright and energetic drum arrangement that picks up the record's energy. As the warm and surf-rock-inspired guitars begin to drift through our speakers alongside a wavy array of synths, Mike Luce makes his raspy and sensual vocal appearance to sweep us off our feet once again. We love the complimenting tones between Luce's hazy and mysterious tones and the overall psychedelic feel of the instrumentals. This song feels like basking in the sun while the seaside wind sweeps past your face; it's exhilarating, to say the least.
Hitting play on track number five, "Ocean of Emotion/You Are My Sunshine," we can already tell that this song is about to be a wave of emotion, no pun intended. As the soothing and chilling guitar soundscape begins to drift through our speakers for a solid minute, Mike Luce's dreamy vocals seep into the song with incredible emotion and heart. If the album were a movie, this song feels like the point where our protagonist is lost in their emotions and doesn't know which move to make next. It's truly a beautiful soundscape; we must note that we're extremely impressed with The Zeldas' ability to paint such delicate, dynamic, and effective images through their instrumentals that make our hearts skip a beat.
Reaching the next track, "Heliocentric," this is where the party begins. The song takes off with bright surf-rock guitars alongside upbeat drum breaks that launch us into the celestials. As Mike Luce's hazy and warm vocals appear, they enlighten us with a passionate and loving message while cruising with the feel-good instrumentals. We adore the upbeat and lively approach The Zeldas have taken with this track, as it not only contrasts most of the record but it reminds us that when the rain sets in, there's still hope for a brighter and sunny day. Using the movie analogy once more, this track is definitely where our protagonist finds their groove and lust for life.
Onto track number seven, "My Naivety," the song opens with a rumbling and crunchy electric guitar alongside a chilling organ that grows into a powerful instrumental breakdown with a lively drum arrangement. The instrumentals leak nothing but anticipation, groove, and soul, especially as they continue pouring through our speakers alongside Mike Luce's dreamy vocal stylings that wander through the atmosphere with the utmost reflection and introspection. We love the soul of this track, especially the gripping organ that takes us back to the prime eras of the 60s and 70s rock. With a psychedelic instrumental breakdown towards the outro, The Zeldas make their way into the album's last track.
Jumping into the album's eighth and outro track, "Life," this is where our protagonist finds their way to the finish line of their oceanside journey of introspection while The Zeldas pick at their guitars, hit their drums, and make their way into our hearts. We love the song's feel-good, dreamy, and slightly psychedelic approach, specifically the vibrant and wailing guitars that screech and soar with the utmost emotion and passion. The fact that this song is a hazy and chilling instrumental perfectly emphasizes the record's thoughtful and cathartic concept, especially once the sounds of waves crashing on the shore drift us towards the song's end.
Make your way over to the ocean and ride the 'Cool Waves' with The Zeldas' latest album, now available on all digital streaming platforms.
A warm welcome to BuzzMuisc The Zeldas. Congratulations on releasing your conceptual debut album, 'Cool Waves.' What inspired you to write and create this album surrounding the ocean and all its glory?
Thank you very much and thank you again for this opportunity to talk about Cool Waves. I think the creative process for this batch of songs began when I decided to make a Best of The Beach Boys CDr for a few friends near the beginning of winter a few years back. Because winter in Thunder Bay often means 6 months of snow with little sun and way too many frozen days, sharing The Beach Boys music was my way of offering a form of escapism via sound. Since songs like Warmth of the Sun and Lonely Sea seemed to really help all of us get through a particularly brutal winter, I wanted to see if I could make my own music that might serve as a similar form of escapism. In some ways, my goal was to make music that allowed my friends to imagine they were on a beach somewhere in sunny California when they pressed play and closed their eyes.
How much of the record, 'Cool Waves,' was created by Mike Luce vs. the rest of the members in The Zeldas?
For me, writing & recording go hand in hand. Again going back to the fact that my city is frozen & dark for almost half of the year, when I get home from delivering the mail all day in the wind & snow, I like to shut myself indoors and spend the evening making music. So truthfully I had about half the album completed before the band was even formed. Once the band got off the ground though, band member(s) Mike Lyngstad added the lead guitar to Heliocentric & Life, and Josh Talakoski contributed the lead guitar and vocal harmonies to My Naivete. From time to time though, I wonder about what could have been with an alternative trajectory for the band, say if we didn’t start out a mere eight weeks before the pano began... and imagine that perhaps we might have completed the second half of the album in a more traditional kind of way. After all, we do have two new songs recorded that feature all six members playing their own parts. And at one time each one of the full band tracks had been considered for the album. In the end, though, I was encouraged by my bandmates to release the album with the batch of eight songs because they all felt that it made more of a cohesive musical statement.
Regarding the hazy and heartfelt lyricism in 'Cool Waves,' what did you want your audience to feel and take away?
I don’t know if I actually achieved this but I have tried to imbue the sound of this music with that special kind of romantic haze that can wash over you like a wave of warm & fuzzy feelings. Like in that special moment when it seems like you are able to feel another person's romantic feelings for the first time and there is a lot of communication about attraction & desire occurring non-verbally like on some kind of a chemical level. Since these kinds of feelings can be fleeting I am trying to create a world through sound where it is possible to tap into this kind of love energy simply by listening to the music. So if I was to answer your question with a single word I would like the listener to feel and take away a sense of- romance.
What inspired the hazy, psychedelic, trippy, and woozy feel within the instrumentals for 'Cool Waves?' Why did you choose to head down this surf rock/shoegaze sonic path?
There is an album by a band called Spacemen 3 called, “Taking Drugs to Make Music to Take Drugs To.” Although I don’t think I’ve taken this ethos to the extent Spacemen 3 did, I believe the handful of psychedelic experiences I’ve had, continue to influence me on many levels. Likewise, it was my fascination with psychedelic music from the 1960s that made me curious to try psychedelics in the first place. To me, it seems like even after a single psychedelic experience, there is this unique kind of creative feeling that is possible to tap into from that point forward. It’s like a waking dream kind of atheistic or the intersection between conscious & unconscious where all of the interesting stuff happens. When I make music I’m basically trying to recreate this in-between world through sound. And just as past experiences with psychedelic drugs have influenced the music I make, I believe they have also enhanced my appreciation of and connection to nature. So in addition to the themes of romance and new love, another major theme in the music is the love of nature. With a specific focus on the Ocean and how the gravitational pull of the sun and moon upon the earth affect tidal waves. Although I don’t think there is any kind of plant medicine or chemical that could come close to matching the intense bliss of romantic love, I find that interacting with nature after microdosing mushrooms or taking MDMA enhances my love for nature and makes me feel connected to ancient\eternal rhythms of the Ocean. Last, I don’t know how obvious this is to anyone other than me: the title of the album is partly a reference to the experience people have when they say that they are, “rolling in waves of ecstasy & bliss,” after taking MDMA. And since I’ve been making shoegaze music for years with other bands often with more of a slant towards psychedelic rock, I thought it would be refreshing to channel my love The Beach Boys into this record. Not so much the Surf Rock aspect of The Beach Boys but rather their warm and sunny harmonies.
How does the album 'Cool Waves' represent your group? Do you feel that this record will help new listeners get to know you better?
The line-up for The Zeldas is composed of members from four of my favorite local bands. We have played on the same bills at bars for years and a few of us have also played together in past bands. And so even before the idea of The Zeldas came about I would often show musical friends early mixes of the songs on my car stereo on the way to a gig, or in the parking lot at the venue in between bands, and then sometimes at a party after shows. The five guys that always had the most enthusiastic response then became the first people I asked to form a band to perform the music. And so I think there was a palpable level of excitement to learn and perform the music from the very first rehearsal. Likewise, I think the songs the other members eventually contributed to the band were ones they had written and thought were perhaps too shoegaze sounding for their other bands. And so I think the way this album represents The Zeldas is that it reflects our shared love of shoegaze music. As for our listeners, my hope is that our music could make a nice addition to their best of shoegaze playlists or even serve as an introduction to the genre.