Howe Gelb: The Coincidentalist (New West) - album review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Sunday, May 19th, 2024  

Issue #48 - November/December 2013 - HAIMHowe Gelb

The Coincidentalist

New West

Dec 04, 2013 Howe Gelb Bookmark and Share

Imagine describing the music of Leonard Cohen to a friend who has never heard of the Canadian troubadour. Now imagine that friend is a musician who then decides to record an album that sounds like their idea of Leonard Cohen, based on your description. This is the sound of Howe Gelb‘s new album: David Byrne did this with Joy Division and the result was Talking Heads 77; The Coincidentalist is hardly as successful.

Gelb’s voice here is smooth and whisky-soaked to the point of parody. “It used to be much cheaper/To find a love and keep her,” he intones over a smooth lounge jazz piano and drums on the album’s opening track, and the whiff of forced nostalgia never dissipates. He switches smoothly between that smoked barroom sound and his familiar alt-country and Americana leanings. “Running Behind” is another throwback that best showcases the latter genre, although with its light country guitar line it’s strongly reminiscent of The Eagles’ “Lyin’ Eyes.”

Oddly this makes for a pleasant, if uninspiring, listen. Gelb sounds fully committed to the songs, injecting them with warmth and conveying a genuine sense of enjoyment. There’s nothing wrong with retromania in small doses, and when it’s done with this much conviction then it becomes infectious enough to make an enjoyable album. (

Author rating: 6/10

Rate this album
Average reader rating: 9/10


Submit your comment

Name Required

Email Required, will not be published


Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

There are no comments for this entry yet.