by Joel Parmer (@cup_of_joel)
There’s a lot to say about Coaster. For starters, their record Slow Jams is one that I’ve held close to my heart since it was released through Community Records back in the early summer of 2015. It’s one of only a small handful of cassette tapes that I’ve literally ruined from listening to so many times—partially due to the sheer number of plays the cassette received and partially due to multitude of tape decks it was played through introducing the group to friends. Their song “Tomatoes” resonates with me so heavily that it could easily be my favorite song of all time (for real).
Anyways, having spent a great deal of time listening to all of the songs from Coaster releases, I was a bit bummed out when I recently heard that the band was calling it quits.
But as I do with many situations in life these days, I’ve tried to look on the bright side. Coaster left us in good taste with two new songs; a tangible form of closure for the group. And they released an incredible record less than a year ago titled Stuck With It, that can be appreciated whether you’re a long time fan or just discovering them now.
Having hailed from Chicago, Coaster’s members represent a microcosm of like-minded bands from the area. Singer-songwriter Matt Kissinger sang and played guitar in Coaster. He also performs in a solo project called Beso. Kissinger moved from Chicago to LA at the end of last summer, right around the time Stuck With It was released. Not placating blame, but it seems likely that his move may have sparked the groups disassembly. But no shame in that though, it’s understandable to want to pursue change and move to a new place.
Furthermore, multi-instrumentalist Seth Engel played guitar and backed up Kissinger’s vocals. Additionally he fulfills several roles in his other group Options and drums in Lifted Bells which features Braid’s Bob Nanna. Dillon Kelley holds down the bass spot in Coaster as well as in the artfully experimental band Longface. He also previously played bass in the loose and noisy rock band The New Diet. Marcus Nuccio drums in the group as well as several other Chicago mainstays: Ratboys and Pet Symmetry, among othersThe final record from Coaster, Stuck With It, doesn’t necessarily reinvent their sound but that’s not a bad thing. The album emits the lackadaisical post-punk vibes Coaster perfected over the years. Across the board, all of their releases have similar qualities. It’s as if they’ve drawn from a continuous well of refreshingly formed songs.
Starting off the record “Chill” swaps crystal clear verses with pulverizing hooks. As each phrase churns, the seamless transitions add to each repeated part until the song reaches an unruly final progression. A snappy snare count in and screeching feedback introduces the next track, “Shaken” which was originally premiered on Post-Trash. In that write up the song gets described as “a jagged pop song contorted through post-hardcore's dexterity and dynamics, with just the right amount of emotive flailing and syllable stretching vocals.” That’s a spot on take on the track as well as the mindset of Coaster.
Songs “Pack It Up” through “Purpose” trot along at an identifiable pace for Coaster. They choose to avoid stagnant, comfortable riffs and instead jump from place to place approaching dissonance. While Coaster structure songs in a borderline pop rock fashion, they throw in a multitude of weird curveballs and shatter that mold to pieces. Their songs toss together abrasive turnarounds and gritty, fuzzed-out tones with cleverly voiced guitar parts. Think boisterous tones colliding with intricate, pseudo-jazz-rock phrasings.
“Cool Breeze” breaks up the madness, if only slightly. Kissinger’s vocals push out melodies reminiscent of a favorite Slow Jams song. Inflections in the chorus’ lyrics “there are too many sights breaking up my blue sky” run parallel to Slow Jams’ “Tomatoes” chorus “I’ve got nothing left, nothing left, nothing.”
The final track on Stuck With It is the most mellow. Opting for a singular, elongated build up instead of constantly shifting dynamics “Fall Apart” perfectly closes the album. At first the structure wobbles a bit but after some repetition the song forms a thick wad of sonic depth.
Simply put Coaster’s songs are enjoyable to listen to and the members radiate a powerful, fun-loving force. As my friend Max once put it in a quick Bandcamp review: “Sometimes you just find something that perfectly fills a void within you that you didn't even know was there.”
Regardless of the fact that they are not an active band any longer, Coaster is worth checking out if you’re unfamiliar. Coaster certainly had a good run and the members will undoubtedly continue to collaborate with other talented musicians and craft many more fantastic tunes.