Black Eyes Cough

[Dischord; 2004]

Styles: avant-punk, punk, hardcore
Others: Fugazi, Hot Snakes, Blood Brothers, Liars

Ouch, just as quickly as Black Eyes became a band to watch closely and attentively, the group decides to end their short career after only two album releases in two years. In fact, the announcement came prior to the release of their much anticipated sophomore release, conveying a sense of pointlessness of any enthusiasm that Cough may have conjured upon listening to it. Nevertheless, most will critique Black Eyes for their early dismissal and will use Cough as their vessel of criticism. If the album is as good as expected, many will curse their impromptu breakup. While if the album fails to live up to expectations, Black Eyes will unknowingly become a "what if" band, remaining an open mystery in today's punk music.

Firstly, Cough is not at all similar to their debut album. While Black Eyes fabricated post-millennium avant-garde punk music with heavy guitar-driven ditties, Cough is a completely disjointed affair, adding elements of free-jazz and contemporary groove to their punk rock assault. This is exemplified on "The Eternal Life" and "Commencement," as fundamentals of saxophone displaces the rhythmic and abrasive musicianship. In fact, guitar is often replaced on the record for improvised elements of keyboards, sampler, recorders, shakers, slide-whistles, and much more. So to call Cough a punk record would not suffice.

The percussive battering is as persuasive as their debut. Actually, it is arguably more impressive on Cough due to the lack of overshadowing guitar effects. Although extremely frenzied and hectic, "Another Country" is a perfect example of the abrasive drum assault of Black Eyes. "Holy of Holies" showcases similar success with its rhythmic and incoherent percussion. "Scrapes and Scratches," the album's finest song, is a perfect and successful amalgamation of all of the elements that Black Eyes possess, including their patented rollicking drums, high-pitched squealed vocals, and newly-found jazz elements.

Black Eyes' Cough leaves most listeners unaware of their particular musical path. Although their debut laid their musical foundations clearly, Cough examines the band as pioneers of experimental music. Very disjointed and often brusque, Cough is extremely hard to accept as a departure album. But again, Black Eyes would have always wanted to remain a mystery as to what they were and where they were going.

1. Cough, Cough
2. Eternal Life
3. False Positive
4. Drums
5. Scrapes and Scratches
6. Fathers of Daughters
7. Holy of Holies
8. Commencement
9. Spring into Winter
10. Another Country
11. A Meditation