Trashed mics create chaos

Coachwhips frontman John Dwyer sings through a cannibalized telephone receiver, patched into a guitar amp using some kind of primitive soldering technique. Keyboardist Val Tronic uses something approximating a Casio MT68 keyboard, circa early to mid-‘80s, again, plugged directly into a blown-out guitar amp. Their lyrical content varies from blunt sexual propositions and requests for food to combinations of the two. Add some stabs of six-string noise and some simple but raucous drum beats, and you have their sound: something that is constantly breaking down and flying apart in all directions yet coalesces from sheer centrifugal force.

To say they have progressed on their latest effort, the 20-minute “Peanut Butter and Jelly Live at the Ginger Minge,” would be an admirably difficult to defend proposition. However, if you get passed the seeming chaos of this brief but bright slab of sound, comparisons to the band’s other recorded work can be drawn. For instance, the keyboard playing is more on its own as opposed to just doubling Dwyer’s guitar lines. Also, the telephone-mic thing seems to have sustained something more than minor wear and tear, making the vocals even less intelligible than before.

Only the Coachwhips could make the gradual destruction of the band’s equipment sound like artistic progression, but as the hiss of improperly amplified ancient keyboards and broken telephone receivers gradually threatens to take over more of the mix from one album to the next, it’s not hard to see this devolution as a beautiful, if not purposeful, statement.