Album: Coaster – Painted Faces

“Like the kind of conversation that makes the rest of the room disappear, Coaster celebrates the people that give meaning to their lives – with typical slowcore solemnity. Their debut LP Painted Faces plays like an anthology of subdued get-togethers, placing lead singer Bart Appel’s inner monologues squarely in the middle of the Dutch band’s brisk and brimming folk-soaked sound.

Almost immediately upon their first encounter, Paul Dijkman knew he wanted to partner up with his classmate Bart Appel and jam. And though Appel had initially held off collaboration, his qualms quickly evaporated as the two bonded over their love of Alex G, Red House Painters, Low and Duster. After some brief forays into other genres, Coaster soon became the inseparable slow folk unit it is today, rooted in an acoustic back-and-forth but continuously expanding.

The duo’s first full-length effort, Painted Faces, is reminiscent of a house party spent on a comfy couch in the corner somewhere – spectating, ruminating, missing your friends while they’re still in the room. It is life lived in slow-motion. An ode to time spent together, as well as all the ‘nights that won’t happen’ – a line that songwriter Appel borrows from David Berman and reapplies on the surprisingly-catchy ‘Nights’ with simmering exaltation.

Appel’s intuitive and sparse lyricism stands in stark contrast with Coaster’s in- studio approach, the album’s arrangements coming together over the span of nearly two years and mostly within the four walls of Dijkman’s bedroom in the heart of Utrecht, overlooking a forestlike urban oasis. There, the two took turns toying endlessly with new ideas while basking in the work of their bandmate.

Any stalemates were resolved with slide guitars, EBows, a mandolin solo, or by occasionally stepping out of their little bubble. ‘Waves’ and ‘What You’re Doing To Me’, for instance, started out with just an acoustic guitar but evolved as Appel and Dijkman began playing their live shows with a full band – turning both into sweltering saunas with the reverb-induced fervency of loveless and early Yo La Tengo. Loose backing vocals by Vera Mennens were added as flotation devices on the album’s most transcendent tracks, ‘In This Room’ and ‘Back and Forth’.

Other songs required physically leaving the comfort of their five square meter studio space, which, for one, wasn’t big enough to fit a drum kit. One of the people sought out to record the drums, Jasper Boogaard (of Nagasaki Swim, a band Dijkman joined soon after), also ended up mixing the album, adding to it the varnish that gives the album its subtly ethereal shine. Texas artist Madeline Dowd (Crisman, Teethe) made the final contribution to Painted Faces, painting the titular silhouettes – all seemingly looking outwards and inwards, from the ground and high up in the sky.

– Ruben van Dijk”

I must say, this press release is truly impressive. It provides such a comprehensive and captivating account of the album that I find myself at a loss for words. The album is a delightful blend of lo-fi rock, slowcore, and shoegaze, and I have been enjoying it tremendously over the past few weeks. It’s a perfect match for anyone who is a fan of Alex G or Duster. What’s even more fascinating is that it hails from the Netherlands, which adds an extra layer of intrigue, and I’m thrilled to see such exceptional music being created in Europe.

Do not forget to grab this album on vinyl or cassette via Tiny Room Records and Dying Dutchman Records.