Koufax - Strugglers
Record Label: Doghouse Records
Release Date: September 23, 2008
"Do you understand / Why the shops in school are keeping tabs and there eyes on you? / But I wanna roll the dice / I wanna roll the dice / Leave my job and leave my wife / Tonight."
Above are lyrics from the song "Roll the Dice," off Koufax's new record Strugglers. Here, vocalist/guitarist Robert Suchan talks about a gamble with his life. I mean, "I wanna roll the dice" sounds a bit like a gambling term or trying to take a chance with something new and trying to make the best out of it. Koufax released Hard Times Are in Fashion back in 2005. The record didn't really get much hype and people just didn't seem to get the concept. So the question was: What will the next Koufax release sound like? In this case, the Midwest quintet decided to take that "gamble" and produce a completely different sound with their sixth studio release.
"Any Moment Now" is the start of the gamble. Out of nowhere, jazzy fills featuring tenor saxophones and assorted percussion are the first sounds you hear. At first, I got the impression of this being a huge jazz ballad, but I was quite wrong. The unique sound Koufax has seems to carry on a label that doesn't really support similar sound (I.e: The Bigger Lights, Lights, The Status), just amazes the listener. "What I'm Saying" begins the correlation of Koufax's intact sound. Throughout this piece, it sounds like a 1970's jazz buster; one that you'll go to a dance to and snap your fingers along with. Dustin Kinsey delivers upbeat piano hits, and along with the combination from Suchan and Ryan Lallier, the song is an instant highlight.
"Strugglers" is driven by an elevator style synth from Rosenberg. Those cheesy beats wind up leading into the chorus, "We don't know why we struggle / Tearin' pages from the bible", where Suchan's voice blends with the subtle bass lines. This section should make any critic rave. "Facsimile" and "Once in a While" are superb back-to-back tracks. Both tracks highlight soothing guitar melodies and drum driven songs. It's no secret that Koufax can still go back to their old ways. However, they polish the similar sounds in a more meliorative fashion. "Roll the Dice" is still a personal favorite of mine. It demonstrates some of the finest writing points from Koufax as a band. What amazes me, is the sounds that both guitarists make. Sounds that kind of remind you of foreign war music. I really do think it's refreshing to hear Robert Suchan's voice at its best.
When I was trying to find the artwork for this record, I came across a picture of African children wearing sun glasses. Is this who the real "Strugglers" are? All I know is Koufax has released a beautiful, melodic album. It's a shame it's taken so long to release this, but to everyone, it's well worth the wait. If this record doesn't introduce itself to other listeners, with songs such as "Roll the Dice", "Strugglers" and "What I'm Saying", god help the music world.