Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Coachmen - Failure to Thrive (1988)

There are few records in my modest collection that I take more pride in than the Coachmen's Failure to Thrive. And it's not because it consistently sells for over $100. It's because it's original, raw proof of a an aspiring (yet, ironically, failing to thrive) Thurston Moore trying to link the older generation of New York cool (The Velvets, Television...) with the new sounds of downtown Manhattan (Teenage Jesus, Mars, The Contortions, Glenn Branca...).

To me, it's the perfect link. The JD King/Thurston Moore combination weaves sharp, choppy, zig-zagging guitar with (somewhat) melodic chord changes. It's edgy. It's nervous. It's a little nerdy. And while they might not of had the chops of Richard Lloyd and Tom Verlaine, they certainly create a self-enclosed guitar world that echoes the glowing urban night that Television classics made me dream of. And the obviously self-interested and monotone lyrics are a reminder that the band comes after a long line of "hip" snotty downtown kids surviving in a burnt-out, boarded-up, and filthy New York in the late 1970s. (Don't let the release date confuse you. All the material was recorded in 1978-1979, but this demo LP wasn't released until after people were digging Sonic Youth, in 1988.)

Naw, it's not it's not perfect, but it's something to have, aint it? Albums like this continually remind us that music isn't static. The sounds are changing. Everything influences everything. And maybe its also a bittersweet reminder of how closely geography music used to be. Because this album represents scenes that weren't even "city-specific," but were "neighborhood-specific." Following closely on the heels of this album would be the No Wave scene that literally encompassed a handful of lower Manhattan blocks and neighborhoods. Aint that beautiful? These kids white kids didn't really have much as far as musical chops, but they created their own, self-sustaining music scene in which they controlled everything. Kool.

**Sorry, it's the biggest picture I could find that worked.



  2. I am very much looking forward to listening to this. Thanks for the post!