I just read Jessica Hopper's review of Coughs' Secret Passage, which as it happens arrived in my mail yesterday and went immediately onto the life's-too-short pile. But idle curiosity led me to click the link, and when I was just about done wading through a bunch of overwrought gender-fixated bullshit (the two male members of the band don't get mentioned until the third paragraph from the end, because JH is so busy girl-crushing on the singer for letting her pants fall down and getting all sweaty on stage, cause we all know what a big fucking statement sweaty punk skanks are in 200fucking6), I came across this line:
Coughs began in 2001 as a cross between an experiment and a dare -- no one in the band was allowed to play an instrument she already knew how to play.
Give me a huge fucking break, please. This makes Coughs the second girl band I've heard this month who make a thing out of not knowing how to play their instruments. (The other was Swan Island, who manage to almost rock exactly one time on their nonetheless-rapturously-praised-by-members-of-Sleater-Kinney debut CD.) What the fuck is that about? Did I miss the memo where technical competence was declared a tool of the patriarchy?
As I type this, I'm listening to Secret Passage, and, well, it ain't what the always-earnest Ms. H would have you believe it is. It's boring semi-tribal noise-rock with some briefly interesting guitar work that would be a lot more interesting if the guitarist in question could make more than one noise per song. There's a saxophone, too, but I'm not sure why. Hopper's new heroine, vocalist Anya Davidson, has exactly one vocal tone - full-on shriek, luckily mixed low enough to be annoying, but not a deal-breaker as long as the two percussionists are doing their Swans-meets-Slipknot thing in the far corners of the sound-field. Occasionally, Davidson sounds about half as interesting as Eyehategod's Michael Williams, but most of the time, she sounds like the school bus driver on South Park. Even if they learned to play, Coughs would probably be terrible. But if they did that, they'd just be playing The Man's game, right?