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Double Death

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Album Review

Despite the anarchy of their sound, Coachwhips had an impressive work ethic: they recorded four albums in as many years, playing hundreds of shows in houses, dives, and clubs along the way. A year after the band's final album Peanut Butter & Jelly Live at the Ginger Minge and their sudden split comes Double Death, a CD/DVD set that includes B-sides, rare tracks, and concert footage. As the CD shows, Coachwhips were an incredibly raw band that stayed incredibly raw til the end, forgoing niceties like studio polish or second takes for blunt impact. John Dwyer once said that the band's abrasive blend of garage rock, blues, punk, and noise was so rough not because it was an aesthetic choice, but because they didn't care if they sounded perfect. That's particularly clear on "I Don't Need You": when the song falls apart, Dwyer screams "The tape is rolling!" and the band pulls it together just long enough to finish the track. Like all of Coachwhips' material, the odds 'n' sods on Double Death range from noisy to super-noisy. "Brains Out" is so gruesomely distorted that it's hard to tell if the noise at the end of the song is screaming or guitar; "ATM" sounds like Spinal Tap's "Gimme Some Money" played through savaged speakers; and repeated crashes and a keyboard line inspired by Canned Heat's "On the Road Again" are the hooks that hold "Mid-Tempo Violent Dancer" together. The CD also features some excellent cover choices from acts as well-known as the Kinks, Sonics, and Velvet Underground (whose "Guess I'm Fallin' in Love" the 'Whips mow down in under two minutes) and as obscure as the Ickys, Horrors, and Traps. Double Death's DVD features excerpts of gigs ranging from shows in apartments and basements to Coachwhips' farewell show in Brooklyn. Regardless of the venue, all the footage is scuffling, claustrophobic, and crazed. Within the first 20 seconds of the DVD, the camera falls over and seems certain to be crushed by the crowd swarming Dwyer and the rest of the band; later, Dwyer bashes himself in the head repeatedly with his guitar. You can almost feel the sweat and smell the smoke of these gigs, and the shaky, weirdly lit look complements the band's outbursts perfectly. The DVD closes with a witty slide show of fans set to the strains of "We'll Meet Again." All cheekiness aside, Double Death is an exhaustive, and exhausting, celebration of Coachwhips' brief, blazing moment for those who want to relive it, or missed out on it the first time around.


Formed: 2001 in San Francisco, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Known for their raw, primal, stripped-down approach, Coachwhips have epitomized rock & roll at its most basic. Their infectious, riff-driven recordings of the 2000s have combined garage rock with punk and alternative rock; however, the San Francisco-based trio is quite different from the neo-garage bands that have come from the New York scene (especially Brooklyn) in the 21st century. New York-based neo-garage bands like the Strokes and the Blam have had more of a power pop outlook — their...
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Double Death, Coachwhips
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