In a modern musicscape that’s cluttered with stripped-down bohemian husband-wife duos playing typewriters and harpsichords, 19-person Bronx collectives experimenting with the novelty of mariachi music, sad-sack singer/songwriters churning out state-themed concept albums, and artsy Icelandic indie rockers singing in a made-up language, it’s refreshing to see a band to take the controversial stance of simply playing loud and unapologetic rock ’n’ roll that’s free of any gimmicks. Boasting an impressive pedigree of associated acts including Red Knife Lottery, Hail Archer, The Response and Farewell To Twilight, Milwaukee rockers Hot Coffin pulls no punches in its emphatic 10-song recorded introduction, LAW.
Behind the harsh wall of distortion and snare thuds, local filmmaker (and Hot Coffin front man) Sean Williamson growls Law into motion with energetic opener “Rolling Bones,” setting the rarely abandoned tone in the process. “Stunner” holds the aggressive overtone of its predecessor, but throws in the catchy chorus, “You ain’t here for me anyway/You ain’t stupid, you just want it to look that way/You ain’t here for me anyway/You ain’t human, you just want it to look that way” and hints at the angular axe-wielding of guitarist Christian Hansen, which populates much of the album.
In a batch of songs with names like “Tranquillo Lola” and “Grand Fuck,” Hot Coffin pounds and screams its way through bleak-yet-boisterous numbers that land anywhere between shoegaze and hardcore. Though rare (e.g., “Fire Child”), Williamson’s abrasive howl occasionally blankets Hansen’s intricate guitar licks and almost-entirely buries Joe Kanack’s bass in the mix. But, the bass returns when the shouts take a hiatus for rhythmic LAW standout “Creeper,” wherein Williamson – singing this time –is aided by the sturdy vocals of former Red Knife Lottery singer Ashley Chapman in a rare departure from Hot Coffin’s meat and potatoes, Queens Of The Stone Age-esque mainstay.
That’s not to say there’s a single thing wrong with Hot Coffin’s bludgeoning doom and gloom norm. In LAW, this young band manages an encouraging debut that merges infectious vocals, tight musicianship and (best yet) ballsy, non-pandering rock ’n’ roll.
Hot Coffin will release LAW Saturday, Feb. 23 at Cactus Club in a show that also features Cut Teeth, and The American Plains. The $10 cover includes a LAW CD. To stream or download individual songs from LAW, go to Hot Coffin’s Bandcamp page.