Monday, September 05, 2005

In love is so tough on my emotions

"They will not remind you of anything."

This statement was written in the N.M.E. in 1979 about the Raincoats, and indeed, they defy comparison. While first inspired by 70s icons like the Clash, the Sex Pistols, and Patti Smith, the four-woman band cast aside the constraints of punk music. Using guitars, a violin, and drums, they created music that is simultaneously energetic, unpredictable, and often affecting; though their music sounds odd, it's a natural weirdness that's never forced. Their self-titled debut album is one of Merritt's favorites from Rough Trade's early days. It was reissued in the 90s thanks to the advocacy of Kurt Cobain, but sadly, the album has again fallen out of print.

One of the striking things about the debut album is the unpolished, yet completely exhilarating drumming by Palmolive (real name: Paloma McLardy), who was an original member of the Slits. Palmolive was an inspiration for Claudia Gonson, who cites her as her favorite drummer, and in Chickfactor #10, Claudia names the Raincoats as her favorite band of all time. She even recounts a trip to England in order to track down the band in the mid-80s: "I was going to give them a tape of Buffalo Rome, which became the Magnetic Fields' Distant Plastic Trees."

The first track on the debut album, "No Side to Fall in," is a manic little number featuring frantic fiddling and what sounds like an aluminum can being beaten. (Note: the Geffen reissue of the album includes the track "Fairytale in the Supermarket" as a bonus song, but instead of being added at the end, it is used as the opener.) "In Love" is a disorienting song, apparently mirroring the dizziness of love with abused guitar and violin strings and repeated syllables. Though it too is out of print, I also give high marks to the second Raincoats album Odyshape, which is even stranger and more removed from its contemporaries than the debut.

The Raincoats - "No Side to Fall in"
The Raincoats - "In Love"


Blogger MikeyPod said...

I love your blog so much. Thanks for doing this.

7:50 AM  
Anonymous Melody said...

After your mentions of Rough Trade, I'm curious: do you know if Stephin Merritt has ever said anything about The Fall?

3:16 PM  
Blogger Ernest said...

mikeypod: Thanks!!
melody: The Fall! (uhh) I don't know if Merritt is a fan, but I wouldn't bet on it, since he tends to favor melodic singing. But who knows...

12:11 PM  
Anonymous Michael Williams said...

Appallingly, I had never heard of the Raincoats until this post. Thanks for the heads-up. I'm enjoying their cover of Lola right now.

1:35 PM  

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