Coyote Kid creeps and inspires with “The Skeleton Man”
How does one review a story driven album without any spoilers? Well, you’re about to find out.
Coyote Kid is, dare I say, one of the hardest working bands in the Twin Cities at the moment. I first encountered them in their Marah in the Mainsail days at SXSW, playing the rooftop of the Handlebar. An old high school friend who had moved to Austin, joined me for that showcase, but went downstairs to watch the NCAA tournament because he found the band to be “too screamo.”
You missed out, friend. And, so did I by not watching more of their set (shame on me).
Coyote Kid is theatrical, to say the least. Their songs on The Skeleton Man are catchy and aggressive, yet still reasonably accessible. As accessible as you can get for an Americana inspired hard southern rock band obsessed with the macabre, that is.
One of the things I like about this record is how multi-layered the storyline is. Watching the music videos for “Femme Fatale” and “Strange Days,” actually reading the story in the liner notes, and just sticking to the lyrics themselves will bring forth 3 separate narratives. The music videos and liner notes are what they are (“Femme Fatale” tells a tale of a vampiric car – nowhere to be found in the main storyline) however there’s some things left open to interpretation in the lyrics themselves – they’re malleable, I daresay, to the personal stories of the listener. Vague spiritual undertones are present if you look hard enough, but they’re also just fun.
The cinematic elements to this band shine bright. But, it might not cinematic in the way that you usually think. Yes, there is an all encompassing effect that permeates the record. But, things don’t get as spacey and atmospheric as the term “cinematic rock” might imply. The main way this genre shows itself is in the slow buildups and dramatic vocals – there are still hooks galore, and plenty of tracks that ought to be radio friendly – “Femme Fatale,” “Prowler,” and “Undertaker” among them.
The whole album has a sort of steampunk obsessed with death vibe that I love. After I lost a family member a few years ago, I found myself reading up on the topic (the YouTube channel Ask A Mortician is a rabbit hole you might be surprisingly entertained by) a lot – not because I had any sort of death wish or was caught up in despair, but because it was a sort of coping mechanism of dealing with memories surrounding her passing. That research awakened in me a curiosity that I only dabble in from time to time – yet it’s there enough that I completely get the fun vibe they’re going for. The story is spooky and full of twists and turns, but not too frightening and even offering some hope. Ultimately, to understand your mortality is to understand how things are – and be further along in your journey to finding the purpose of life and your ultimate destiny. Durry’s gravelly vocals are the perfect medium to deliver this message with attitude, with fellow vocalist Cassandra Valentine taking the lead at opportune moments. Plus, with an on point horn section, how can you be down in the dumps, no matter how dark the storyline gets? And finally – I never would have thought of giving the grim reaper steampunk/spaghetti western persona (not a spoiler) – very original.
Coyote Kid have crafted a memorable, catchy album with something fun around every corner. Reading the liner notes is key to full enjoyment of the record, so I highly recommend doing so. But, if you prefer to just listen and form your own conclusions about the story, that’s perfectly acceptable too.