A Year of Coping: Casa Loma

We are halfway through 2021 and sometimes I feel like we still get stuck reminiscing on how rough 2020 was. Now it is definitely easy to sit and go on about how hard last year was, but I don’t think we need any more reminders, or articles for that matter, dissecting the hardships of 2020. What I would like to reflect on are the positives that got us through the said year. What gets anyone through times of change, grief, and growth? Now for those of you reading this, I think it’s safe to say that music is one of those things. And probably a major one. Whether it be writing it, playing it, or just becoming submerged in an album by a favorite band.

We all have those records we turn to when life becomes challenging, or even when we’re floating on cloud 9. A lot of great music came out of last year, but there’s one record that stands out and that definitely helped me and I’m sure a lot of others get through. That record is one that is called “This is Coping” by Casa Loma. It is turning one this month and what a better time to go back and reflect on it, have some real talk about each of the songs, and of course give some appreciation to the man behind the masterpiece, Nik Bruzzese.

Now this record landed just in time as the world we were living in seemed to be falling apart. We were stuck inside, alone with our thoughts more than we probably should’ve been, and somewhat pushed into a completely new way of living. Though this EP has major moments of loss, grief, and heartache, it also brings healing, light, and comfort. Almost like a beacon of hope during a time when things seemed so dark.

The EP opens with the track “All Alone Again”, which Nik dedicated to the late Tim Landers. We are used to hearing quite a different sound from the defender of pop-punk, but I think we can all agree that there are no complaints about this new and unique sound he is giving us. It’s beautifully melodic and almost haunting at times. Not to mention lyrically it’s quite personal and extremely relatable. Through this track, we are let into a very emotional journey of solitude, which last year was definitely big on. Now almost every song has a dedication and right off the bat you hear and feel the sincere energy Nik has put into these tracks.

We get into the second song “DP23” a dedication to a dear friend that was lost. Here we take a trip down a road that is filled with loss, grief, and of course coping. However, even with all of this heavy love and loss, you do feel a sense of healing even through all the pain.

“Famaglia” is the next track and is my personal favorite. When I first heard this song my heart sank. Not only because of lyrics like “I don’t wanna go anywhere without your love”, but because I became so overwhelmed with emotions I still cannot express, yet also felt so wrapped up in comfort and peace. And after all, isn’t that what we are sometimes looking for when pressing play? Now even though most of the record is quite soft-spoken and just acoustically beautiful, we get a bit more of that pop-punk vibe with the track “I Wanna Know”. But even with the upbeat pace, Nik still makes it his own and keeps up with that unique sound that this whole EP delivers.

Now we move into the real heartstring tugger of the record which Nik wrote for his children. Yes, I’m talking about “Olivia, Marley, and the Duck Pond”. If you don’t bawl your eyes out during and after listening to this you may want to check your pulse and question why you only have the emotional range of a teaspoon. You can tell family is beyond important to Nik, especially when it comes to his girls. Now whether you have children or not, this song and its message is something to be praised, appreciated, and played for years to come.

The EP now comes to a close with the grand finale of a track, “Travelers”. And we couldn’t have asked for a better way to close out. We are once again invited into a very personal story that lifts us up and leads us back to where we need to be. It takes a lot to put your heart, life, and hardships into songs and then share them with the world. In the case of “This is Coping” I think we can all be grateful that Nik gifted us with such a gem in a time of need and it is a record, we can rely on and keep coming back to.

I always say when you love a piece of art you should let the artist know. I’m hoping this acknowledgment of “This is Coping” turning a year old does just that. Showing appreciation and support for something that someone has created is one of the easiest and biggest acts of kindness I believe we can show. Especially when it moves you. We all turn to and count on music in a therapeutic way. It is the one constant that’s always there for us and never ceases to lift us up when we need it most. “This is Coping” will forever be, in my opinion, a record we can all turn and relate to when life maybe gets a little tough. If you have never listened to this EP, please give it a spin, share it with friends and of course give the man behind the magic, Nik Bruzzese, a follow. He’s been grinding lately at his new home The Gradwell House, where he no doubt has been helping bands make some epic tracks. Stoked to hear what he has next for us from Casa Loma, until then enjoy this EP, keep that head up, do what you love, and take those chances now while you’re breathing.

Article by Kristen Hernandez

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