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Vassar student band Coax Rhino to debut their ‘bandstuff’: a new album ‘Plum Gut’

Guest Reporter

Published: Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, December 5, 2012 17:12


Courtesy of Coax Rhino's Facebook page

Coax Rhino's new album Plum Gut drops this Saturday, Dec. 8.

Aaron Steinberg ’13 sits in his TH bedroom that neighbors mine, strumming his guitar with creature-like sensibility. It’s approaching 7 p.m. Sounds from the guitar sputter while trying to form complete thoughts, gradually stopping and starting. Soon gaining fluidity, a basic yet catchy chord progression settles and finds its rhythm, increasing tempo while becoming confidently louder. The chord sequence repeats itself as the reliability of physical memory takes over. A wicked bass line soon emerges. So does a voice that softly croons, attempting to match the guitar’s pitch.

Steinberg will soon show off his musical stylings this Saturday, Dec. 8 when his band Coax Rhino plays a celebratory album release show at The Mug at 9:30 p.m.

I knock on Steinberg’s door. “Steinbot, wanna get some dinner?” “Naw man, workin’ on some band stuff,” he replies brusquely in mid-song. Typical. I’ve seen this utter disregard of life from him before. Some call it passion. Others call it talent. Regardless, his hierarchy of basic needs seems altogether jumbled, reconfigured by what he refers to constantly as “bandstuff.”

Bandstuff—one word mind you, if pronounced correctly. It escapes the mouth quickly and nonchalantly. In Aaron’s case, this an all-encompassing term. It often involves an out-of-contact hiatus from his friends and less cool practical responsibilities. It includes anything from recording, promoting new music, editing videos, mixing, producing, sampling some good old soul, or scavenging the internet for new music that influences his own.

Lately, “bandstuff” has even included spitting bars, as the release of his hip-hop single “Catacombs” under the ultra-original alias ATS (his initials) reminds us that he’s not only a member of an indie rock band.

In fact, at the annual Four Pillars Hip Hop event, Steinberg performed his rhymes alongside Charles Hoffman ’13 (aka MC Grizz) before Action Bronson hit the stage. 

Two weeks ago, Steinberg released the video to accompany this side project. Almost completely filmed on-campus, the video was directed and produced by Steinberg with the help of VCTV, an unofficial org devoted to producing video projects—in particular, Nicole Glantz ’15 and Wendel Smith ’14. Since the music video’s release, the clip has spread quickly across campus and surprise recognition at the Retreat or in the halls of Chicago Hall are not uncommon.

Aaron’s a big man with an unexpectedly deep, gentle voice with lyricism and full sounding vocals. The members of Coax Rhino have been slapping bass together since junior year of high school, but before they became a “typical lame high school band,” as Aaron himself describes, they were simply a crew of 8th graders who roamed around Guilford, Conn. as hard as middle school cool-kid wannabes could roam. 

Later in their childhood, as on-the-up-and-up high school juniors, Coax Rhino would find time for basement jam sessions in between athletic practices and fishing. The group likes to fish, but music feels natural too.

The band will be steadily releasing tracks from their new album Plum Gut throughout the week, with the entire compilation dropping this Friday at midnight. Admirers can find the work on Facebook and Bandcamp.

The album’s title comes from a local fishing spot near the group’s home in Connecticut. Steinberg describes the spot as someplace mystical. From childhood, he recalls hearing grungy old fisherman guys talking about how many fish they caught coming back from “The Gut,” which left Steinberg and fellow band mates wondering about the honey hole’s whereabouts, points of entry, wonders and prizes. 

“I could never get there myself because it was too far for my smaller boat, but one of these days, I’m gonna get there,” Steinberg said. 

Coax’s style is mostly indie rock. Their overall sound feels softly rockish, perhaps more rockish than indie even, marked most notably by sporadic changes in tempo that effectively loosen up the flow. Additionally, Coax’s style uses a wide range of vocals and buoyant guitar solos or accompaniment that feel momentarily suspended in the track. They have a knack for catchy choruses, too. 

The show that Coax Rhino played last year at Vassar is a true testament to the highly danceable spirit of the band’s songs. The Mug was packed tight with a crowd undulating to the catchy tunes. Steinberg still claims that was the best show he has ever played, one he only hopes to outdo this Saturday night.  

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