October 1, 2017

TEST SPIN | Coast Modern — Coast Modern

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Fifty years ago, people from across the country gathered in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park to celebrate music. The Summer of Love hosted music from many different genres, both mainstream and underground, but the highlight of the festival was the new genre, born in California’s Bay Area and brought to life by bands such as Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead.

1967 was the year of psychedelic rock. Despite its immense influence on the 1960s and 1970s counter-cultural movement, psychedelic rock has largely disappeared from the limelight. Those, like myself, who still crave the unorthodox guitar riffs and new chord progressions, must plop down an ancient record onto a turntable for a chance to listen to the wild sounds of the genre. But the wait for a modern-day psychedelic rock group has come to an end with the establishment of the new band, Coast Modern.

Coast Modern is a Los Angeles-based band, formed by Luke Atlas and Coleman Trapp. They started the band back in 2015 with the release of their first single, “Hollow Life.” In this song, Coast Modern replicates some of the sounds that were first engineered back in the 1960s. Their use of electric guitars and whammy pedals allows them to produce pitch shifting effects, similar to those of Phish and Hendrix.

Coast Modern has been delivering imaginative singles since they first formed, but over the summer, they took it one step further. They released their self-titled debut album on July 28th, and with it came six new songs in addition to their previous eight singles. Songs like “Guru” and “Comb My Hair” epitomize the band’s funky sound. With electronic and groovy melodies, these songs make you want to kick your feet up on the couch and take a load off. With their unconventional style, the band encourages a sense of euphoria with their music. The lyrics of “Guru,” and all their songs, are simple and relatable, complementing the beats nicely, “Got some scruff growin’, gotta shave it, get my diet up, no more eatin’ bacon.”

The rock duo shows that they can also get away from their far-out vibes with “Frost.” In this song they ditch the synthesizers for an acoustic guitar and soft vocals, demonstrating their ability to produce a number of different styles of music.

The songs in the album are scattered with interludes, in which Trapp and Atlas freestyle with synthesizers. There are no lyrics for these interludes, only mellow harmonies. Coast Modern covers a range of themes in their songs throughout the album. From heartbreak to teenage angst, Coast Modern touches on it all. Starting with “Going Down,” a surf opera about staying alive, and ending with nostalgia and the ever-changing times in “Frost.”

While their lyrics are meaningful, Coast Modern really focuses on their beats, just as their 1960s predecessors did. They try to imitate the rush of a crashing wave, or the onset of a fairytale-esque dream. They successfully place the listener in the mood they want to, all while keeping the beats catchy and encouraging of some unconscious head-bobbing and finger-snapping.

The original aim of psychedelic rock was to replicate the experience of hallucinogenic drugs with music. They used an assortment of sounds to make this happen, and to create a bohemian vibe people could rock back and forth to. Coast Modern also experiments with these old ways of producing psychedelic melodies to attain the same effect, but they also incorporate their own touch, to differentiate themselves from the past. In their song “The Way It Was,” the band admits to trying to capture the constant uncertainty of life that comes from tripping on ayahuasca. They use modern technology, such as synthesizers, to craft a new sound, one with surfy, southern California vibes. Perhaps Coast Modern will inspire a modernized, second wave of psychedelic rock, but we can only hope.


AJ Stella is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at [email protected].