Artist : Casa Loma

Album : This is Coping

Label : Pure Noise Records

Rating :9/10

Words : Rob Kent 

Nik Bruzzese has channelled himself purely and honestly into an artistic expression that this EP is drenched with. This is Coping is the debut work from Nik as a solo artist under the name Casa Loma separating himself from the band he has made his name in; Man Overboard. Nik has executed everything perfectly on this piece of work. Embracing the warm, acoustic and emo driven aspect in each song, we see a side to Nik that has only briefly been brought to light in past years. This is Coping is fantastic, and Casa Loma is the name you need to be investing your time in this summer; and forever.

To begin, we are greeted with “All Alone Again”. An excellent opener that sets the tone and theme for the listing experience ahead. Making an immediate presence with continuous layers of glossy instrumentation entering at a smooth and gliding pace to really let the words, and passionate vocal performance from Nik, take centre stage. The lyrical content is what has made this record possible. Nk has taken recent tragic events from his life and used this EP as his way of maintaining his own sanity. A true musician creating honest work. This EP is everything art should be: honest, raw and full of passion. The opening track draws the listener in straight away and is constantly intriguing with each new section and idea. An enormously strong start and the EP is in full motion by the end of the track and the listener is subconsciously inclined to continue. 

“P23” begins with more of the same textures and voices. The acoustic guitar takes a more prominent level in the mix this time. The chorus flows like a velvet sheet before leading to a thick silky chorus that, again, just feels so natural and effortless for Bruzzese to craft such fantastic music. His talent is so obvious and he really displayed his diversity as a musician. Opportunities to hear Nik create this sound can be heard on ‘Man Overboard’ tracks such as ‘Dylans Song’, ‘Dear You’, ‘Cry Baby’ and ‘Arlington Drive’. Moreover, the pop punk element has been removed on this EP and a melting pot of indie rock, folk and emo are present. Paying homage to the sounds of Death Cab For Cutie and Foxwarren singer Andy Shauf, while also adding his own unique and distinctive impact in every way possible.

The lyrical content contains a message that Nik has written for his children for them to use as guidance in darker times when their father is no longer around

‘Famagila’, slows the mood down slightly and is placed perfectly within the track placement to compliment the change in the pace of the music. A track that was written for his close friend Tim Landers, guitarist of Transit, who tragically passed away in February 2019. This track hits home and, once again, the honesty in each word prevails in Niks lyrics; complemented by haunting the melodicism within the instrumentation. Bruzzese is also the man behind the production as well as the guitars, drums and vocals on this EP. Recording and mixing everything at his co-owned studio, “The LumberYard”. Co-owner Ace Ender, (The Early November), has provided the bass on this and the ever-talented Nate Sander performs the additional strings, piano and horns on the songs.

A soft and subtle introduction doesn’t last for long as “I wanna know” moves into full motion. The most similar style work on this compared ‘Man Overboard’, a huge pop punk inspired chorus will no doubt be tremendous to hear in a live setting and gives a change to the energy found on the EP. It complements the songs found before and after perfectly, and once again showcases some brilliant musicianship and storytelling.

Pennuilate number, “Olivia Marley and the Duck Pond ” is a message from Nik to his children. The Duckpond references the street name which Nik grew up on, and now raises his two daughters in the very same house with his wife. The lyrical content contains a message that Nik has written for his children for them to use as guidance in darker times when their father is no longer around. This unique idea and stylistic viewpoint applied to songwriting is so brilliant and shows how a single track can juxtapose the listeners’ emotions when listening. A heart-warming message with a relaxing rhythm and melody that when analysed, is also very dark and deep.

These half dozen songs showcase a man experiencing pain, loss and grief, whose message and stories are brought to life and expressed in a gleaming indie rock climate

‘Travellers’ closes the EP, and as soon as this song is finished, all the listener is imminently wishing to do is replay the EP over and over. The closing number enters with some strings that are elegant and as the vocals become prominent, the melody and layering is then perfect. The building of layers and contrasting texture suede between the instruments is so intriguing while also being a perfect relaxing piece of work. This music is so versatile on the surface with a deeper inspection. ‘Travellers’ is the perfect conclusion for the EP as the lyrics shine through and the music is everything needed to round off this excellent piece of work. The half time section in the bridge and outdo brings for a dramatic finish and almost gives a sensation of reflection to what has just been absorbed in this listening experience. A bold and classy finish.

These half dozen songs showcase a man experiencing pain, loss and grief, whose message and stories are brought to life and expressed in a gleaming indie rock climate. Consequently bringing forward the presence of longing, connection and bereavement in each note that is played and sang. Nik Bruzzese, from Man Overboard, has crafted a magnificent open letter. This EP is a raw, honest, and a beautiful display of emotion from beginning to end. Indulge yourself in the messages and feelings in this music and listen to the EP immediately.

This is Coping is out now via PureNoise Records

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