Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Diane Coffee: Exhibit A

In my continuing effort to like some music that was recorded after 1982, I took the bait that Uncut Magazine was dangling in front of me and listened to Diane Coffee, aka Shaun Fleming from the band Foxygen. If memory serves...I've since trashed the issue of the mag...the album, "Everybody Loves A Good Dog," received an 8 out 10 and tossed out some key words and phrases like "Pet Sounds," T. Rex and Philly Soul. (Although, in fairness to Uncut, I may have combined the efforts of a few rags and their collective comparisons.)

My first spin, immediately after reading the review, left me angry. Again. But this time I won't blame Uncut.  I blame myself for yet again having faith, that a rave review would have at least a modicum of accuracy.

Some would argue that 25 seconds worth of a cappella harmonies that sound a bit like "Good Vibrations" is enough to toss out a comparison to the sacred Beach Boys classic, wheras I would suggest listening to the other 4:30 of "Spring Breathes." You can do that above. It's really not bad. It really isn't anything at all.

And I imagine the fake strings, glockenspiel and harmonies of "Duet," sung as a duet with Felicia Douglass, does evoke a bit 60's girl group/Philly soul...to someone who maybe doesn't know any other Philly soul tunes,

And "GovT," below, could be on "Electric Warrior," if it was 1972, had more guitar, a better hook, better production, and the one and only Marc Bolan leading the way. But then, really...not really.

It took a couple of weeks before I decided to dive back in to "Everybody's Loves A Good Dog," and I enjoyed the second time around a little bit more, as the media hype and irresponsible comparisons had finally left my system. But even now, I am left wanting more. A collection of Lo-Fi tunes that resemble a mid-70's K-Tel compilation just ain't fittin'.

This is another nothing record. It's clever, but transparent. It's fun, for ten minutes.  It's another 2015 release whose reviews are a lot more entertaining than the music itself.

Trying. I am.


A walk in the woods said...

I saw Dianne Coffee open for Luna a few weeks ago, and have to concur. (Luna, however, was GREAT.) I smiled at the onstage antics of the lead singer - a genuine smile, because it takes chutzpah to grab that mic and not be indie-hipster cool/reserved/distant - but I didn't hear enough to grab my interest much beyond that.

William Repsher said...

I've just had a similar experience with The Tallest Man on Earth. Hoodwinked enough that listening to 30-second snippets of songs on Emusic had me thinking, "Not bad, worth checking out, I'll pull a dozen tracks and see where it goes." Just got through them on the train this morning ... a B songwriter with D- vocals. The songs aren't bad at all, but his vocal delivery awful. Made worse with the "deeper than thou" reverb heavily applied to the vocals, the second most cloying effect I find with indie bands/artists, right behind baby-talk/speech impediment vocal phrasings by female lead singers.

Nine times out of 10, it's the vocals that ruin it for me with these artists. Of course, I don't get the hype, but let's face it, hype has existed for decades, sometimes used appropriately, most times not. I might be going out on a limb here ... bear with me on this ... but might I suggest most critics are assholes? Having been one for a time, I know of where I speak. They'll purposely wind themselves up over material they know is obtuse and not really commercial and make it sound like the secret to the universe has been discovered by this band who has more than likely just bought a vinyl copy of Hunky Dory and never head anything but "Changes" before this. And I guess we're supposed to do back flips because they aren't doing hiphop or boyband material?

There's a real problem with living through decades of music in that you've lived what these bands are referencing, and you know they're not putting out anywhere near that level. Forgivable with a room full of 25 year olds who are just experiencing this for the first time. Not forgivable with a bunch of critics who know better. Then again, they tell the truth in situations like this, they'll be out of work within a year. Therein lies the rub.

Sal Nunziato said...

RE: Tallest Man On Earth

A very good friend of mine, a writer/critic, thinks TMOE is the greatest thing since sliced bread. I believe he has even mentioned that a few times on these pages. I couldn't handle more than a few songs and I've tried a few times. I don't get it at all.

Anonymous said...

Why so glum, chum? So nobody's making good music nowadays. Big deal. There's so much great old music out there to listen to. And you should be grateful that you were around for so much of it. I'm 27 and missed all the greats in their prime. Unless the Yeah Yeah Yeahs count. I don't think they do.

-- Dan (longtime reader first time writer)

Sal Nunziato said...

Glum? Me? Stop that!

James Grady said...

The last one was more Bay City Rollers

William Repsher said...

Lame-ass production techniques and bad vocals are generally all that keep me from really singing the praises of a lot of newer bands. I like Foxygen, so I am inclined to check out this artist you're talking about here (and will probably give it my patented "not bad" stamp of approval that's your kiss of death!). I've just heard way too many cliches in the past decade -- the ones I noted. And the Jesus & Mary Chain style feedback/recording in a bowling alley vibe. The 80's synth pop with indie-style bad vocals. Overly earnest male folk-leaning vocalists ... ZZ Top beard and horn rims optional. The handclappy/footstompy fun indie folks who are really deep, too, man. Resurgence of glockenspiel.

My only advice is to gravitate away from indie and classic rock. They're not dead genres, but there's so much else going on, hard to encapsulate or describe when you cast your net wide. Of course, there's no consensus when you start living like this, but much like you, I'm not too thrilled with what the consensus is achieving these days!

Shriner said...

Bay City Rollers? I'm in!

No, seriously, each one of these tracks is in my wheelhouse. I will check this one out...

buzzbabyjesus said...

I listened to all of the first one and 30 seconds each of the next two. I haven't seen any of the hype, so I wasn't "pre-annoyed". I'd put "Spring Breathes" on a car "mix" and play it two or three times at least.

cmealha said...

I'm listening and I'm digging what I'm hearing so far. I haven't been infected by the hype so I'm going to pursue this one

Jeff in Denton TX said...

Keep in mind, UNCUT only gave the Finn Brothers' great "Everyone Is Here" album 7/10. That said, this stuff is kinda catchy.

William Repsher said...

I have a nice TV series illustration of what Sal is putting forth in terms of music. I recently picked up HBO Now as I wanted to see the series True Detective, the back series of which haven't yet made it to Amazon Prime. I'd heard good things about it, was very interested in checking it out.

So, from about the first two minutes of Season One, wherein Woody Harrelson and Matthew MConaughey play Louisiana detectives trying to solve a ritual murder, I'm all-in. Actually, don't want to do anything else while watching, totally enmeshed, can't take my eyes off the screen, rewinding certain moments so I don't miss crucial lines and clues ... just the best TV watching experience I've had since Season One of Twin Peaks. This is incredible, I tell myself afterwards, I can't wait to try out Season Two!

I'm halfway through Season Two, and can you hear the sound of the balloon releasing air as it blubbers across the room? Not that it's bad. But just after the revelatory experience Season One was, Season Two feels like standard-issue TV crime drama with some nice moments ... much like the rest of Twin Peaks wasn't quite up to the first season standards, and downright awful towards the end. It's not "bad TV" by any means, just nowhere near the level or promise of what Season One put forth.

Season Two of Twin Detectives is to season one what rock/indie music of the past decade (or two?) is to the "golden age of the 60s/70s. Will I watch the whole series. Sure, it's not bad TV. But I'm always on the lookout for the sort of brilliance Season One had.