I’ve played this album for about four weeks solid and the Milwaukee band has got under my skin. When I try to explain why I love this recording it will be a list of the things I don’t like but lets just go through it to see if we can make any sense of why I have been playing this incessantly. The cover of this eight track album is either genius or a collection of stupidness. A chick, in Japanese bathing garb, pouring tea while having a beehive on her head and either blushing or bleeding. The hive seems to have eyes but that’s a whole different journey of discovery I haven’t signed up for. The orange colour of the background is alarming. Its the orange warning colour that suddenly appears on your car dashboard to tell you that you have ten miles left before your wheels fall off. No idea whats going on here and if there is a message then I can’t be arsed working it out. So I’ve got past the album cover with a few, ‘for fuck’s sakes’, under my breath. So lets get to the song titles and you know that it all looks OK, nothing too pretentious for this album, which is the second outing for the band. Hold on, last track, ‘Ass-to-Ass’. I’ll come back to that.
Hot Coffin are a four piece and its the basic type; guitar, bass, drums and vocals. Chris Chuzles is the vocalist and he reminds me of the mighty Steve Ignorant. Just the phrasing and the way the words are spat out. Haven’t heard that for a while, that got a few points.,but why this vocal comes out of Wisconsin I don’t know. Whatever the reason the vocals take some time to adjust to, but in my case that was because I thought that was because they belonged to a band from 1981. Never mind, its all good.
So to the album. After being stupefied by the cover and stunned by the vocals I danced across the tracks, dropping the mouse pointer here and there. That’s unfair. Lets listen to it end to end, so it went on the phone. Then it was tied to the car hi-fi. Then it went on the iPod. Suddenly I realised I had Hot Coffin dependency syndrome. I’m humming this stuff all day.
From the eight lets choose a couple , no a few, but whatever, just buy this. I would buy it on vinyl TODAY if the American postal system was capable of shipping something at less than the cost of the goods. Anyway! Already released, ‘Whistle, Hawk and Spit’, is as catchy as it is annoying. Annoying because its stuck between my ears and will not come out. Those songs where you can’t hear the lyrics and rhythmically just go, ‘ hum..hum hum..humm hum’. Yes, its one of those and its pretty awesome. I would love to delve into those lyrics and tell you the deep and meaningful that has brought them into existence. Can’t help you there as I was too busy enjoying it to give a shit but its unlikely I can interpret what the hell is going on anyway.
Third track, ‘The Bait’ and we go all Clash. Gone in a flash this is another angry little distorted number about who knows what. Again I’m just humming the tune and grunting and wheezing where the lyrics appear. No idea. Track five, ‘Salt Away’ is probably pick of the bunch. Its a mature track which implies that the band have been at it for a while. Its also one of the longer tracks on the album at just under five minutes. I’m getting visions of Shane MacGowan on this one as the vocals are as dirty and greasy as any track on this orange coloured grimefest. The solo lifts it out of the dirt and this is the highlight of the album.
Penultimate track, ‘A Lesson in Sleep’, is a strange one with counterpoint drumming and jangling guitars all working against gang vocals. Again, I have absolutely no idea why, but I enjoy every second of this. Then. to the last one, ‘Ass to Ass’. After this album, you think that you’ve heard it all, then this. Its a one minute and fifty seconds of lets get everything out of the system so we drive up to the CLOWNS end of the punk spectrum. That’s how its done.
So I’ve listened to Hot Coffin end to end continually. As hard as I’ve tried to find fault, I have only found positives. This is for me a hark back to the introduction of (proper) punk in the very early eighties. So that’s what gave me the hooks, I think! For everyone else, give it a spin. If we are all in this together, lets form a Facebook group for Hot Coffin dependence.
Review: Craig Grant