Coughs Secret Passage

[Load; 2006]

Styles: no-wave, post-hardcore, noise-rock
Others: Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, Black Eyes, Mars

Unlike new-wave’s constant regurgitation in pop music, the “no-“ prefixed sectional of that punk hymnal is often better left to the ’80s, to Suicide, DNA and Mars. If bands like The Misfits were channeling the darkest realms of punk, no-wave removed all of the kitsch and added an aural and mental insanity.

Listening to Secret Passage, I have to wonder what awesome, terrible shit happened to Coughs since their rather boring debut, Fright Makes Right. Anya Davidson is front and center throughout, spitting dry-throat howls like sulfuric pop rocks. At times, her shards of human voice are downright horrifying. In the last minute of “Dark Power,” those shrieks reach levels of pure noise with the ugly dissonance of indistinguishable guitar distortion and what sound like the shittiest drums ever (which in fact are discarded 55-gallon oil barrels, and two band members beating in unison!). Davidson continues to astound on “Colors and the Way They Make You Feel,” recalling Kim Gordon’s dead stare vocals on “Shaking Hell” as the bass line snakes around the chaos and takes the earlier James Chance-like sax skronk melody.

Secret Passage is one fucking ugly album: everything from the decidedly lo-fidelity sound quality to the drilling guitar work to the grotesque, plastic flower artwork. And just like Black Eyes’ split after the somewhat brilliant Cough (an understated Dischord release lost to the hype of Q And Not U, unfortunately), Coughs have gone and done the same: left us with a bewildering, ravaging end piece.

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