If you are seeking Tahoe’s best local jam rock band, travel no further than Coburn Station. Named after the original Truckee railroad depot, this band embodies what it means to be hometown garage rock stars. They’ve been steadily astounding eardrums on the local circuit for the past couple years. And now, with the professional release of their debut album “Coming Home,” they have set their course for something greater than the next mind-blowing bar gig.
As the album kicks off with the funky blues-rock number “Wise Men Disagree,” the power, passion and musicianship of the group are immediately on display with guitarist and front man Dan McAlister’s scorching, tone-perfect licks and Thomas Page’s locked-in, throw-it-down baselines. Keyboardist Ryan Taylor, also of Thick Newton, Easy Giant and the Sextones, complements the group’s sound with his fluid, creative soloing and solid timing.
The second track “She Ain’t Here” can only be described as outlaw space country. After rambling for 6 minutes over love lost, it drops into the high-energy dance jams for which Coburn’s live shows are known. The throbbing drumbeat, pulsing synth and wailing guitar form an immense climax before fading away into obscurity. “Gotta Get Away” continues to explore the themes of leaving and finding love with a sound reminiscent of The Band, before finding a peak jam built in the spirit of Phish.
Now before I go any further, I must admit that Coburn’s drummer, Conor McAlindin, is my brother. Conor is good at a lot of things (and not so good at others), but what he is best at in life, and I should know after 30 years, is playing the drums. It’s his inspired, energetic thumping that breathes the lifeblood into this band, and the uplifting vibration is alive and well on these studio tracks. When we enter the jam rock bliss of “Breathe Deep,” his tight, in-the-pocket playing perfectly underlays McAlister’s solid multi-layered guitars, bringing to mind Pink Floyd circa “Animals.”
The country-rock funk of “I Don’t Mind” keeps things light, before opening up into the grungy crowd-pleaser “On the Trail.” This track reminds me of an upbeat Widespread Panic Southern rock anthem paired with a Pearl Jam breakdown cut from “Ten.” The jam evokes the image of a 747 taking off until the double-bass kicks them into an overdrive guitar solo cranked up to eleven. It’s a highlight of the album and a local rock triumph.
Page takes the lead on the catchy “Karma Train,” a clever song about that Pullman that always comes rolling back no matter what you do. “Won’t Be Your Fool” offers more sure-footed, blues-rock punctuated by Taylor’s tasty Hammond organ licks and another unyielding McAlister guitar solo. “Ramblin’ Tendencies,” a straight-ahead country rock number written by the drummer, recalls the story of life on the road and the necessity of a good woman to call you back home.
“Streetlight” is a dark, towering hard rock anthem that could’ve been a B-side on the Dazed and Confused soundtrack. Foghat would be proud as the boys take this one to the limit, then drop into the groovy trance beat that builds to a soaring crescendo before finally breaking into a classic 70s rock finale.
The album closer and namesake “Coming Home” is probably the best song on the record. McAlister has penned and delivered a perfect last-call bar song, one that would make even Willie Nelson proud. Taylor’s swinging piano and McAlindin’s mandolin beautifully complement this sad, sweet story of a man born to drink, love and play guitar with his local band. Essentially, it’s the story of Coburn Station.
Coburn’s garage rock jams are the perfect antidote for every work-a-day hometown hero with heaps of talents and even bigger dreams.
“We work all week so we can live our rock star dreams on the weekend,” says McAlindin.
Essentially, they’re all best friends who are simply having fun. The kicker is that they’re a kickass rock band, too. And I have a feeling they’ll be coming home to stay for a while.
“Coming Home” is now available for download on iTunes and coburnstation.net, or free steaming on Spotify.
You can catch Coburn Station at their Coming Home Album Release Party in the Red Room at Crystal Bay Casino on Feb. 26, supported by The Space Heaters and Sir Funksalot.
Feb. 26 | 9 p.m. | Free
Crystal Bay Casino | Crystal Bay, Nev.
With The Space Heaters & Funksalot