Album Review: Coast Modern

words by Alyssa Tyson

 Photo by  Myrah Sarwar

Photo by Myrah Sarwar

Before listening to Coast Modern's debut self-titled album, I had never heard of them.

            After listening to the album, however, I wanted to listen to it over and over again. I woke up with their lyrics stuck in my head, randomly noticed them there in the back of my mind throughout the day, and listened to each track as many times as I could.

            How would I describe Coast Modern's sound? In my opinion, their sound is unique enough to completely disregard all genre labels except for indie. The best overall descriptor I could give the album is a blend of Foster the People and Cage the Elephant with a unique twist. Of course, there are a few other select bands that came to mind as I listened to each track individually. But let's take it from the top.

            The album kicks off with "Going Down," all steady-smooth melodies, the kind of song you'd want to listen to when preparing for something big--whether it's an important meeting or a first date--or when unwinding on a lazy afternoon.

            "Tiny Umbrella," my personal favorite track, is definitely an unwinding song. Wavy vocals mixing with the steady backbeat provide for an excellent sound.

            The first thing I thought when I listened to "Guru" was that it reminded me of Foreign Air, mixed with the overall vibes and style of the rest of Coast Modern to provide a pleasant tune. I'm always a sucker for wavy background distortion.

            "Dive"'s vocals and music in general reminded me a bit of The Killers and implemented similar style elements to "Tiny Umbrella" and "Guru" while still maintaining a unique sound.

            "Pockets Full of No" features Coast Modern's typical ska-electronica sound, perhaps more emphasized, and the unique additive of unique sound effects (including but not limited to airhorns). It's one of those tracks that I feel is just crazy enough to work.

            I'm not sure what I feel about "Yemma," the following interlude track. It carries the rest of the album's groovy-beats, which I suppose works in a peculiar way. (Listen to it. You'll get what I mean).

            If new relationships came with mixtapes, you could expect to see "Run it Up" on the tracklist at least once. "Run It Up" captures the carefree-yet-careful essence of blooming romance.

            "Wild Things" is another of my favorites, just because it comes completely unexpected. Carrying Mumford and Son's acoustic whimsy-whisper style, the track differs from any and all before it but still sounds just as solid.

            "Hollow Life" is just the song you'd want to listen to while trying to forget everything that worries you. According to the band, it's their most popular song, probably for that reason. It sounds like a party and relaxation all at once.

            "Groovy," the album's second interlude track, is just that: groovy.

            The best place to listen to "Comb My Hair" would be the beach, hands-down. Most of these songs would sound just as amazing played anywhere, but this track in particular demands the waves as a metronome. Try it out sometime if you've got the chance. You won't be sorry.

            "Honeybee" is more like "Wild Things" than any of the other tracks and sounds more like a serenade than a song for solo relaxation. It's 58 seconds of "fluffy" bliss, the kind of song you'd expect on the score of an indie teen movie about a homecoming dance--and I mean that in the best way possible.

            You know that thing people do where they wave their arm out of the passenger window? That's what "Now I'm Cool" reminded me of--an arm out of a car window, feet on the dashboard, shades up. It could be the repetition of the title phrase or just the guitar in general, but if you're chilling on a drive one day, give it a try.

            "Animals" reminded me of Of Monsters and Men, from beginning to end, with a bit of Coast Modern's stereotypical groovy-twist added to it. To me, the track itself sounds like the beginning of an adventure (or an adventure movie, to keep things realistic). If you're in the mood to imagine, listen to this song.

            This might sound odd compared to the rest of the album, but "Pogs & Slammers" reminded me of Cake (the band, not the food), probably due to the fact that the track takes up Cake's typical straight-forward, almost spoken-word platform.

            "The Way It Was" is the sort of song you listen to when reuniting with an ex-friend or ex-lover, just to remind yourself that (as Coast Modern says) "oh, we're never gonna go back to the way it was." It's the sound of welcoming someone back into your life yet maintaining the knowledge that you can't and won't ever be as close to them as you used to--and how there's nothing wrong with it. It's the sound of taking a negative change and making it a positive.

            "Bugs" is the perfect transition to "Frost." Campfire-reminiscent crickets set the scene for "Frost's" nostalgic-vintage sound, like flipping through your parents' old photo albums and watching your childhood progress from Kindergarten Halloween costumes to graduation. What's more impressive is that, according to Coast Modern themselves, it was recorded only once onto a cassette in a basement. If that doesn't scream indie-vintage, I don't know what does.

            So, why should you listen to Coast Modern? Assuming you enjoy music perhaps a bit more than the average person, I'd think it's safe to say you most likely have a few playlists lying around. Coast Modern is the perfect fit for playlists titled "Chill Vibes," "Summer Drives," "Parties and Hanging Out," or some variant of the three. They have a super-cool psychedelic visualizer video for each track on their YouTube channel. Give them a listen and feel free to let me know what you think!