First Coat
Gig Seeker Pro

First Coat

Band Rock Americana


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos


The best kept secret in music


"Move Like Sparrows (4.2/5); Beat's best of 2005"

First Coat have been playing out in the Chicago area since 2000 under various lineups and monikers (formerly Drexel). They self-released their debut album in 2002 and have since acquired a few more friends to fill some holes after losing a few co-founding members in 2003. They also belong to a close-knit collective of musicians local to the Chicago area, chronicled and compiled on the Mr. Hyde record label. According to the band Move Like Sparrows has them focusing on some new musical terrain.

So we find the band opening up the album with the instantly catchy 'Try Again'. The ringing guitar lines and lead singer Conor Loughridge's slightly melodramatic vocals mesh together well. During the chorus, Conor hangs on every other word, adding a bit of cleverly played suspense to the song. When I first heard this song on CDBaby I fell in love with it. Ace! (You can check it out on the monthly mix for May.)

'Butterfly' and 'Artichoke' both feature playful guitar with a slice of twang. The latter has apparently spent some time high on Cincinatti radio station WOXY's charts. Judging from the members they share the charts with, this is no small feat and no surprise as it is quite the rollicking number.

Just when I thought perhaps the album would teeter off into 'excellent EP, merely good LP' territory the band unleashes 'Listen To Your Kids', a bouncy power-pop tune that recalls '04 favorites Dogs Die In Hot Cars by-way-of XTC. I can never get enough of that brand of pop mustard.
A few of the slower numbers on the album like 'Astonishing Astronomies' and 'Catchy Pneumonia Pajamas' immediately brought to mind some of Will Johnson's (Centro-matic/South San Gabriel) better work. Most notably the former with Loughridge's up-front vocals, a smattering of gently-poked piano and a great deal of melancholy. (Great song title too!) The latter checks in at over 8 minutes and starts to become a bit too grandiose for its own good 3/4 of the way through. This probably being my only real gripe with the album as a whole.

Move Like Sparrows is a creative and diverse adventure in underground pop/rock. At times thoughtful and introspective, other times wistful and catchy. It becomes immediately evident in songs like 'Catchy Pneumonia Pajamas' and the opener that Conor is no slouch when it comes to lyrics and being able to convey his emotions in such a smooth, classy manner. Loughridge as a vocalist has also proven to be quite capable amidst a wide variety of sounds and the band seems more than willing to provide an invigorating backdrop to his musings. This is sure to please open-minded fans of the indie soul, power-pop and alike. Kudos.

-Beat 5/12/05 -

"DOA Pick of the Week"

First Coat's sophomore release, Move Like Sparrows, is a step away from the band's previous alt-country release, yet a step forward toward a more indie-rock sound. First Coat, from Chicago, is fronted by Conor Loughridge, who at first glance is an unassuming frontman for an indie-rock band. Conor has a clean and refreshing midwestern vocal style that works perfectly with the direction First Coat has taken for this release. His lyrics have a poetic, zen-like quality.

The album starts off with "Try Again," an upbeat and catchy tune where the rhythm section and guitars perform in perfect harmony. I was also impressed with the lyrics metaphorically comparing the mind to a camera: "I'm opening the aperture, my iris is expanding. The shutter speed is fluttering, my head is split in several places. I'm trying to focus." "Artichoke" reminds me of Teenage Fanclub and the Posies, mixing lyrics about relationships ("I taught you to kill and you taught me to feel like a man at home with his hands on a wheel") with an infectious power-pop sound.

The band slows it down for "Drunk Online Shopping," which will easily go down for best song title of the year. "Catchy Pneumonia Pajamas" is beautiful ballad type of song ("Alcohol makes the human brain see the shadows move like sparrows on the surface of our skin."). "Listen to Your Kids" is a bouncy tune adding piano. "Astonishing Astronomies," my favorite song on the album, draws you into a trance with its acoustic guitar, piano, and noir lyrics ("I reached my fingers through your hair, between my thumb and your folded ear and your throat moved beneath your skin like a centipede in my closed hand"). The song reminds me a dialog from a French new-wave film.

The only downside to Move Like Sparrows is that it is only eight songs long. I was left wanting more. These days, with attention spans being as short as they are, it is too risky mixing an album of indie rock with power-pop sensibilities and ballads, but First Coat pulls it off. Loughridge is a master lyricist, and the band as a whole work like a fine-tuned engine.

- Jason Wilder, 3/10/2005 -

"First Coat"

churn oatmeal into
a froth of milk
that fogs over a
hungry nation
which is fed as it
breathes in.
When the nation
is full the
people become one
with the food
that fulfills them
in that blissful
moment before God
drops his finger
to tamp his pipe,
and strolls

Thax Douglas, 9/29/04 - by Poet Thax Douglas

"Mystery and Misery"

The music from First Coat would have been great during my drive through the Vermont mountains in the middle of the night. The band’s sound is best described as ‘tender acoustic driven folk tunes to full on electric rock with an experimental edge.’ This isn’t too close to the that made Wilco famous but if you dig Wilco, give First Coat a try. Upon first listen of the available mp3s I heard influences like Neil Young, Paul Westerberg, and a twinge of mid-western sadness. Definitely check out the mp3 ‘Lotto.’ -


We have two full length records:

First Coat – Great Lakes Disorder – 2003 Self Release
First Coat – Move Like Sparrows – 2005 Loud Devices

We've also been featured on several hand-made CDR comps put out by the Chicago music collective, Mr. Hyde:

Mr Hyde - Hyde Five - Toothbrush
Mr Hyde - 22 to Tango - Drunk Online Shopping
Mr Hyde - Going All the Way - Artichoke
Mr Hyde - Second Base - Lotto
Mr Hyde - Bands that Hug - Ghost Song

Two songs from our latest record have charted in the top ten at We’ve played live on WBEZ 91.5fm Chicago, WHPK 88.5 fm Chicago, and WLUW 88.7 fm Chicago.

Our latest record is being played on commercial and college radio stations including: WXRT 93.1 fm Chicago, WBEZ 91.5, WHPK 88.5 fm, WLUW 88.7 fm Chicago, WOXY, , KSWI-FM 95.7 Atlantic, Iowa, Sistema Universitario de Radio (104.1 FM Mexicali, 95.5 FM Ensenada, and 1630 AM Tijuana) in Mexico

We’ve also been featured in several music blogs and pod casts.


Feeling a bit camera shy


“Loughridge is a master lyricist, and the band as a whole work like a fine-tuned engine.”–

“Move Like Sparrows is a creative and diverse adventure in underground pop/rock. At times thoughtful and introspective, other times wistful and catchy... This is sure to please open-minded fans of the indie soul, power-pop and alike. Kudos.”

We formed in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood in 2000. Originally called “Drexel,” our line up was Becky Stark (guitar, vocals), Conor Loughridge (guitar, vocals) and Will Long (guitar). We played traditional acoustic folk music with lots of boy-girl harmonies.

After several years of playing acoustic, we expanded our lineup to include bass and drums, and slowly drifted towards electric guitars and synthesizers. In 2002 we released our first full length record under our new name “First Coat.” Our self released album, Great Lakes Disorder, is a kaleidoscopic trip through American rock, folk, and alt-country, culminating in a spacey instrumental.

In 2003, our line up changed again. Our cofounder and front-woman, Becky Stark, left Chicago to live on an island of the coast of California. We began to refocus our sound around a coherent group of new songs. The result is MOVE LIKE SPARROWS, a collection of bittersweet reflections released by Chicago label, Loud Devices in early 2005.

Since the release we’ve added Ronnie Kuller on keyboards.