Had I not waited several months to write this review, I wouldn’t have to preface it by saying that this is now an obituary to a band that has gone on the dreaded “indefinite hiatus.” San Francisco’s garage-punk dirt-mongers Coachwhips leave us their swan song in the form of Peanut Butter and Jelly Live at the Ginger Minge, a record that is neither live nor recorded at the imaginary Ginger Minge. Due to my incessant laziness I can no longer write about how you really need to see this group live to experience their genius and how much I can’t wait till their next release. Nope, now I can only say that it was good while it lasted.
The genius of any band led by Coachwhips singer and guitarist John Dwyer (Pink & Brown, OCS, etc.) has been that the ferocity and good time vibes emanating from the records outweighs the lack of intricate or otherwise complicated musicianship. Hell, even you could form a band like Coachwhips by following a few easy steps. First, get yourself a beat up thrift store guitar that works only half the time. Second, salvage as many pieces of a drum kit as you can find, but remember, keep it simple stupid! Third, steal your little sister’s crappy old Casio keyboard and get a friend with minimal knowledge of keys to man the thing. Now, you’re almost there, you just need to use these three steps as a medium to channel your own brand of breakneck-paced gutter rock. Many have tried and most have failed.
Clocking in at less than half an hour, the ten songs presented here are short blasts of garage punk the way I’ve always thought it should be. No black leather jacket clad cool boys acting like a hipster biker gang a la BRMC or Mooney Suzuki here, just a day-glo enhanced art damaged study of two and three chord simplicity, sweet keyboard riffs and undecipherable, distorted vocals. Nothing you probably haven’t heard before, just done a million times better and with more honesty and integrity than the hordes of rehashed throwback bands that have flooded the market in recent years.
The track “Letter 2 London” with its back and forth call and response between the guitar and keys, is over before it even starts, yet will manage to get any dive bar up and dancing in drunken revelry. “Did You Cum?” takes a page out Chuck Berry’s book and creates a kind of down south swamp boogie vibe that can’t help but make you smile. And the album’s final track, “Your Party Will Be A Success,” slows things down a bit and ends the Coachwhips’ tenure with the great line: “no girls will fight/at least not tonight/your party will be alright/no boys will cry/at least not tonight/ your party will be a success.”
Coachwhips were never a revivalist fad; they were the real deal. And their three-album catalog proves it. A posting from the band on the Narnack Records website sums their demise up best: “Turn the lights out…the party’s over.”
Le Shok – We Are Electrocution
Guitar Wolf – Jet Generation
Ex Models – Other Mathematics