West coast pride in music has been around for quite some time now, ever since the “du-wop” era produced those beach anthems we have all come to love. This trend has persisted into the modern music era, demonstrated through songs like Tupac Shakur’s “California Love” and Katy Perry’s “California Gurls.”
Goldenwest, aptly named after our very own Golden State, continues this theme and does so with a handful of catchy and refreshing songs that are perfect for those seeking something new in the hip-hop music scene.
Goldenwest consists of frontman “Wes” and two others, Shaun Profeta and Colin Baylen. One might recognize the latter two names from another Southern California-based group named A Cursive Memory, who also have their fair share of summer and beach-themed music to go around. Both of them are the singers for A Cursive Memory, and these two are what really sets Goldenwest apart and gives them their unique edge.
One of the most prominent elements of Goldenwest’s sound, in addition to their vocal dynamics, is their catchy beats and synthesizer lines coupled with guitar riffs. This combination is a refreshing aversion to the typical pop and hip-hop beats present in most songs on the radio today.
The tone of their EP “Through My Eyes” (there are seven songs on this release) is set from the very beginning with “Always a Party.” An electronic beat kicks in with a clean guitar riff, driving the music forward before the vocals come in. In the chorus of the song, the California pride and party life is obvious with lyrics like, “It’s always a party, a party in LA, waking up on the floor still feelin’ good from the night before.” As the song progresses, the vocal talents of the two singers are first introduced to the listener that contrast perfectly with the rapping of frontman Wes.
Even though the first track contains the least amount of singing on behalf of Profeta and Baylen, the balance between the two elements is fine-tuned and doesn’t overload with one or the other. By doing so, they manage to really create an engaging listening experience, especially with more heartfelt songs like the title track “Through My Eyes.”
What I consider the strongest moment on the EP, this song manages to combine all the aforementioned elements seamlessly. The song begins immediately with a toned down beat, setting it apart from the other tracks on the album. Frontman Wes introduces the song with a short excerpt of his life growing up before the vocals of the A Cursive Memory crew chimes in with a catchy and emotional chorus. Lyrics like, “I’m not broken” and “If only you could see through my eyes” highlight this song as being more or less the token emotional ballad, but it works well in the context of the album as more of an upbeat release.
The final song on the album, “Superfuturelove,” also showcases the singing abilities of Profeta and Baylen as they foray into constant falsettos that would give Justin Timberlake a run for his money. Even with the explicit nature of Wes’ lyrics, they are still creative and manage to get you to crack a smile at his imaginativeness every now and again. Also notable for this song is the distinct bass line that shines through during the instrumental breaks. To me, “Superfuturelove” stands out as being one of the best songs of this album because of the lyrical creativity, strong singing, and the memorable and superb musical accompaniment present throughout the track.
Even with these memorable and unique songs, there are a few shortcomings on this release. The second track “Evaporate” is wholly dismissible; there isn’t much here that will stick with you, and I found myself skipping the song whenever I would listen through the album. Another song that I found myself skipping over is “Talkin,” which follows suit with “Evaporate.” The combination of elements that makes all the other songs of the EP special and enjoyable to listen to are simply just not as strong as they are in the others.
Goldenwest capitalizes on their sound by making use of upbeat rhythms and well-implemented guitar riffs that give them an edge over other acts in their genre. Without the presence of Profeta and Baylen and the creativity present in all the rhymes, Goldenwest would have fallen into the mix and disappeared from the scene as quickly as they’ve come. There’s a bright future in store for these boys, and with their nativity to southern California, they just might show up quicker than you think.
Rating: 4/5 Stars