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Sandtrap - EP Review: Colder Moments

03 Oct 2023 // A review by OLDER

Auckland based Sandtrap have released their debut EP Colder Moments comprising 5 tracks which is on rotate as I write, filling my headphones with rather splendid aural delights. Sandtrap are Jimi Terei on drums, Kainoa Ogilvie on vocals, Luca Keltie on bass, and Luke Bennett on guitars. You may have heard about them in 2020 when they were placed third nationally in the Smoke-Free Rockquest.

Sitting firmly in the Indie/Alternative genres Colder Moments is quite simply an incredible EP. It’s actually hard to concentrate on writing this review because their music pulls me in and takes me into emotional spaces that stop me thinking. I’m just listening, entranced. Their writing, arrangement, musicianship, mixing, production and mastering on this EP is literally world-class. The band claim collectively that ‘Each of us is serious and highly passionate about our craft. We're hard-working and admittedly too caring about all the small details.’ There’s nothing wrong with that approach and I can attest that it has paid off BIG TIME!

I’ll try to describe the music to set the stage. ‘Indie’ and ‘Alternative’ as genres cover such wide styles they don’t suffice enough for Sandtrap without diving deeper. Also, the terms can mean different things to a US audience compared to a European one. The band say they are inspired by the rock side of these genres from the 1990's and 2000's. That much is very evident. Their sound is driving, full, rich in vocal arrangements, often snarling and quick to change direction and take you down different paths mid-song without ever losing focus. They are especially adept at switching between full and half time tempos, then twisting into musical spaces that leave you feeling you have moved onto another song but instead you intrinsically know you where you are. It is high-energy rock at its best - rich with melody and harmony, perfectly played, intelligent, complex but easily accessible.

I really struggle to offer comparisons with other bands because Sandtrap deserve to be known for being themselves. If I must, however, I’m immediately thinking of Muse (at times) especially in the vocals, then My Chemical Romance for up-front energy and the skill to develop more complex arrangements, Radiohead again for vocal arrangements and emotional delivery and The Killers for an overall sound. To be honest, so good is this EP that I feel I’m taking away from it by even trying to compare it to other artists.

Standout tracks offer another challenge because the whole EP is standout. It is in their whole work that the magic lays, not a particular song. If you want to get a quick overview then perhaps track 2 Apophenia encapsulates the incredible sonic emotion they master. It is truly remarkable. Track 3 Dividing For The Hungry pulls me back into the 2000's when I spent a fair bit of time in the UK. Not a particular band, just the sound that drove the Indie (UK term!) scene and defined the decade for many of us who loved guitar-based music.

I’ve got to make special note of the bass playing and tone. Bass is often overlooked as an important driving and melodic instrument and Luca Keltie absolutely nails it. As a bass player I’m especially tuned to hear it and I love the growl Luca has cutting through the mix. It is some of the best bass-playing I have heard on a new release in a long time.

If I’d been handed this EP and told it was a new band out of Manchester, London or New York with a large following I would not have stopped for one second to question that statement. It is stunning that these guys have gone from a rock competition to this release in just 3 years. Along the way they have had a couple of independent singles and radio play in Aotearoa, but this sounds more like a band that has 15 years of world touring behind them. I could be listening songs from their 3rd or 4th album.

I want to make special mention of Christian Tjandrawinata for co-recording credits with the band and Matt Stone and Scott Seabright for co-production credits with the band. Collectively they have produced an EP that is technically brilliant as well as musically stunning.

I have no idea where to from here for Sandtrap, but I can see them with potential for considerable success, especially in Europe. They are a Glastonbury level band – the world awaits them, and I very much await their first album and seeing them enjoy the success and recognition they richly deserve.  

 

About Sandtrap

Initially grouped together during a high school music class, Jimi Terei (drums), Kainoa Ogilvie (guitar and vocals), and Luca Keltie (bass) found themselves in a soundproofed room with the necessary tools to create an immense racket. They loved it. Inspired by the likes of The Strokes, Arctic Monkeys, Muse, and Radiohead, the group began to cover their favourite songs and would soon try their hand at creating original music. Later, Luke Bennett (guitar) would join the trio and Sandtrap was formed. The band primarily performs indie rock that manages to feel nostalgic and familiar, while being fresh and unique. In 2020, Sandtrap placed third nationally in Smoke-Free Rockquest, a large nationwide music event. After hearing their performance in the final, Radio13 reviewer Clare Martin described the band as producing "an absolute winner of a song." The band have fervently maintained their momentum with gigs and the release of several singles, with debut single Six Feet Down featured on Radio Hauraki along with an interview with Chris Key. Sandtrap is currently working on the release of their first EP and playing every gig they can.

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Releases

Colder Moments
Year: 2023
Type: EP

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