Wow. As a writer, I generally would like to use a more flowery and descriptive word than "wow" to describe an experience that moved me. The problem is that "wow" is exactly how I felt after hearing the debut of The Coastal Drag at Williamsburg's Northsix venue.

I was hooked from the first twenty seconds of their opener, "In Love With Palm Trees". Beginning with a delicate yet infectious guitar line, a la Built to Spill, the song suddenly became Radiohead-esque with a thunderous break down of harmonic distortion and calculated feedback. The contrasting sounds were not unlike the windows of separate rooms in the same house. And each of these windows were draped neatly with the playful-yet-possessed voice of Tyler Dickson (guitars, vocals), the brilliant guitar work and background vocals of Josh Deeter and the incredibly tight back beat of drummer Mary Andrews and bassist Steve Oberlechner. The animation of all four members suggested they had become lost within the walls of their music, and the audience was quick to follow. The Drag continued through a killer set of songs that were as much rock 'n' roll as they were indie or punk. Halfway through the show, I remembered how Andrews had earlier mentioned this was only the second time they had played a live venue. I struggled with the thought of how a band could sound so tight in just their second live appearance. Mind boggling.

Dickson established a great rapport with the audience in between songs, casting jokes and reeling in fans as opposed to the shameless self-promotion that so often cheapens the bond between music and listener. Upon finding he had broken a string after the first song, Dickson declared, "I think I just set a new world record for breaking a string." As he quickly re-strung his guitar, he joked, "Watching me do this is probably as painful as watching us play." While the self-inflicted barb was surely tongue in cheek, the audience appreciated his tone of self-deprecation with a show of laughs; it was an earnest comment, even if it could not have been further from the truth. It was next to impossible not to like these guys.

The Drag wrapped their set up with "Paper Snakes", a tuneful burner that recalled the halcyon days of post-punk. I could not stand still as I watched Deeter and Dickson juxtaposed in rock poses; Deeter on his knees delivering distorted gems of guitar solos and Dickson hunched over in front of his amp, conjuring shards of feedback that could have made Thurston Moore drool. They were drowned in a sea of hollers and applause when the set finally ended. The introduction of this Lower East Side foursome to the burgeoning music scene of Williamsburg had been smashing success. And now I would like to introduce them to you: Tyler, Steve, Mary, and Josh (pictured in order). The Coastal Drag. Wow.

You can visit The Coastal Drag at http://www.coastaldrag.com. You can download free MP3's and send them your comments. They love e-mail.

-- Scott Damell

You can reach Scott Damell at [email protected] and visit his web site of general music information and self-indulgent commentary at http://www.poploser.com.

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