Noise works best alone, freed from trifles like melody or rhythm, but if it’s gotta get shackled, the blues make a comfy prison. Raw, slobbering distorto-blooze has been a deviled religion for a while, with Billy Childish as the Father, Pussy Galore the Son, and the Holy Ghost still up for grabs. Candidates like Doo Rag, Guitar Wolf, Oblivians, and Cheater Slicks have wiped their asses on that absorbent throne, but lately San Francisco’s Coachwhips are stumbling closest to an elusive third infinity.
Unlike the above contenders, who tend to value song above clatter, Coachwhips use blues as a mere hook on which to hang their hair-tearing, blood-drenched hat. Guitarist and noun-belcher John Dwyer is the Brain That Wouldn’t Fry, an insatiable distortion junkie whose best noise fix is always the next one. The drooling blare he punches out with pumping keyboardist Val Tronic and puncturing drummer Mat Hartman has actually evolved, if backwards: The sharp schlock of last year’s Bangers vs. Fuckers is now a sloppier mess of gristly sound. On Peanut Butter and Jelly Live at the Ginger Minge, the smushed “I Made a Bomb” and scalping “Human Skin” are flattened slabs of blurry, soggy din that barely hang onto a thinning blues thread.
Dwyer’s words (which seem to barely total double digits over the album’s blunted 21 minutes) are as buried as his songs, drowned in a murky mess of primal fears: bodies and money, doctors and bombs, peanut butter and jelly. “Who are these people out in the street?/Who are these people and what do they eat?” Dwyer dribbles like he’s been dropped inside Dawn of the Dead, blindly tripping through his apocalyptic cartoons. When he finally escapes into the swinging “Your Party Will Be a Success,” it’s like a sigh at the volume of a scream, a massive exhaling worthy of his band’s exhausting sprints.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 29, 2005