Saturday, October 25, 2014

Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs Gates Of Hell Interview & Show # 531

Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs most recent full-length outing features a six-piece band and a larger production sound. Echoing elements of power pop mixed with garage rock, Coffey’s vocal style has been likened to Joe Strummer and at times the music resonates with the influence of the Ramones, Elvis Costello & The Attractions and The Replacements, among others. The album opens with the title track “Gates Of Hell”, while the imagery of some of the album’s song titles portray darker connotations, the slicker production style combined with catchy hooks proves to be a vicious combination. The opening moments of this song and the album begin with a bell ringing before a speeding car brings us into an attack of cleaner guitars, bass, drums and looming organ which boils underneath the song like an engine. The opening words of the song snarl with attitude reminiscent of Exploding Hearts vocalist Adam Cox mixed with a young Johnny Rotten. Lyrically the song uses its biblical imagery to portray a relationship gone wrong, this powerful opener introduces us to several of the sounds that we will find on Gates Of Hell. The song wavers with upbeat and slower tempos as it builds to a powerful close with rambunctious group vocals that echo the words “I’m alright somebody sing it with me.”

“Hold Me Close” features country styled guitar lines alongside power pop rhythms. Drawing comparisons to The Clash, The Jam and perhaps a bit of The Black Lips, the Iron Lungs mix this with their sleazy charm and lyrics “If you can dance/Hold me close/Hold me closer” projecting a simple, yet effective message. “Get Pumped Up” blends the 60s organ driven sounds of garage rock with the spirit of 70s punk, the faster tempos here are reminiscent of a fast paced Elvis Costello & The Attractions live recording. Sam Coffey sings this catchy track in an almost drunken drawl, while “Season Of The Witch” with driving drums and echo drenched vocals conjures up images and themes of the raved up sounds once brought forth by The Sonics “The Witch” and Lollipop Shoppe’s 1968’s garage punk nugget “You Must Be A Witch”. Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs take these aforementioned sounds and adds echo, dizzying organ and guitar solos for raunchy effectiveness.

“Run and tell her what you’ve done/And I’m heavy on Queen St.” portrays drama that ensues on Toronto’s Queen Street in “Heavy On Queen St.”, the seventh track found on Gates Of Hell. This song, like the others found on this album, have something familiar to them, but they are difficult to pinpoint to a tee. “Heavy On Queen St.” features stop and start song structures that blends a power pop cocktail of Elvis Costello & The Attractions, The Nerves, with a dash of The Dentists for a smooth relaxed feeling. “Calgary Hill” is one of the popiest tracks found on Gates Of Hell. With lyrics that seem to look back on the past while fighting for the present, the lyrics sound like they surfaced from a drunken realization, an epiphany of sorts as the chorus rings with the words “Calgary Hill/All I wanted/All I wanted/I always will”. This song has an indefinable quality, but one that lends itself to the anthemic songs found on Gates Of Hell, this one being the top one on the list. “17” once again builds on the albums darker imagery, but it is sung in a Robin Zander drawl ala “Surrender”, the album’s final track pulls in heavier psych influences.

Four of the album’s tracks were recorded with Ben Cook of the band Fucked Up. Sam Coffey covered the rest of the production, recording in the band’s practice space and a variety of other locations adding to the album’s character, as he has done with previous Iron Lungs recordings. Gates Of Hell covers a lot of topics lyrically and musically adds to the Iron Lungs palate. Sam Coffey originally from Waterloo, Ontario, recently relocated to Toronto and expanded his band to a six piece group. More people in the band means there could be more complication in the overall sound of the group. The band does not fall into this trap here. The band’s sound may have expanded with more members and higher production values, but on Gates Of Hell, Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs deliver an album that deals with many hellish complex subjects, whether metaphorically or bluntly throughout the album’s lyrical content. Musically they still keep the rowdy, pub-crawl spirit that drew us to them in the first place.

Check out the interview I did with Sam Coffey here:

Saturday Night Play List:

1. Link Wray - Hold It
2. The Vagrants - Oh Those Eyes
3. Personal & The Pizzas - Pepperoni Eyes
4. Carbonas - Trapped In Hell
5. Brazilian Money - Then You’ll Know
6. Cream - N.S.U.
7. Ausmuteants - Tunnel Vision
8. King Tuff - Black Moon Spell
9. The Shangri-Las - Give Him A Great Big Kiss
10. Television - Venus De Milo (Live)
11. Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs - Gates Of Hell

Sam Coffey Interview

12. Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs - Season Of The Witch
13. Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs - Heavy On Queen Street
14. Demolition Doll Rods - Psycho Kitty
15. Paul Jacobs - Waiting For The Grave
16. Mekons - Abernant 1984/5
17. Stompin’ Tom Connors - Love’s Not The Only Thing
18. Bob Dylan & The Band - 900 Miles From My Home
19. Woody Guthrie - Pretty Boy Floyd
20. Tweedy - Low Key
21. Nap Eyes - No Man Needs To Care
22. The Ride Theory - I'm On Board
23. Japanese Treats - Color Glo
24. Bell Peppers - Batman
25. The Spitz - Ask Your Mother
26. The Cramps - Aloha From Hell
27. The MC5 - Motor City Is Burning

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for October 25. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

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