Coastal - Self-Titled
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Coastal
Self-Titled

As their name suggests, Coastal create music that's very much like the light surf lapping at your bare feet. It's soft and slightly melancholic, and quite beautiful, mixing delicate vocals, warm basslines, nice guitar harmonies, and just the right touch of keyboards. Upon first hearing the group, the easy road might be to simply dismiss them as another slowcore quartet meandering through the night, but this, their debut album, goes down so smoothly that I honestly don't care if it sounds like a blend of a couple other bands, because it's hard to argue with music this nice.

The two bands that the group probably draw the most comparisons to are Low (because of the languid tempos and male/female vocal harmonies) and Ask Me Tomorrow-era Mojave 3 (for some of the same reasons, along with the hushed keyboards). If imitation is the sincerist form of flattery, either of the above bands should feel a bit tickled at hearing this release, as I know I am. With 8 tracks that run nearly 45 minutes, the group takes their time in getting places on most tracks, but it makes for a nice journey.

Opening with "Northern," the listener can get a good idea of the groups sound as a subtle, simple keyboard melody and brushed drums back woozy guitar and warm bass. Over the top of it all, singer Jason Gough intones in breathy, almost whisper-soft vocals while Luisa Gough adds another layer for a lovely two-part vocal harmony on the chorus. The middle section of the album is comprised of three tracks that all run over 6 minutes long, and it's some of the strongest moments for the band on the entire disc. "Paris Radio" starts out with a more vibrant keyboard part, but soon it drifts to the background before that same shimmering guitar takes the lead before closing out with an instrumental section mixed with a field recording.

Likewise, it's very subtle changes on the track "Celesta" that make it stand out on an album full of excellent songs. A two note melody on the organ offset the guitar and basslines just so, and Gough provides what are probably his best vocals on the entire album, lifting the verses of the track with vibrancy while softening off to more melancholy choruses. Even though it's just a slight amount, the urgency and edge on the guitars of "Ivy" make you wish they'd sprinkle in just a touch more of the rock action. That's a small nitpick with an otherwise very nice debut, though. If you enjoy the bands mentioned above in the review, or slowcore with a touch of shoegazer (sorry for the broad labels), you should seriously seek out Coastal right away. They may not have the name recognition quite yet, but they're making some very touching music.

rating: 7.510
Aaron Coleman 2003-06-19 00:00:00