chauchat - "the cough of a crane"
newest release (and the only on wax) of grand singer-songwriter credit. recorded over a few weeks, and digitized onto things non digital. its all cutted and pasted, and placed together again. the best batch of material of promises unkept. im a little jaded by my invisible friend. but so here he sits. and i got nothing but a pint. limited in an edition of 300. sprayed and glued covers.
Christopher Fischer of Unread Records sent me a dandy of a package awhile ago containing these two trophies from his label, none of which I'd ever heard before - that is to say not the artists nor the label itself. Enclosed was a hand-written note that warmed my cockles (dude writes like a 7-year old, it's great) but I have to tell you I was none too warmed at all upon handling the Chaucat record sleeve which was spraypainted black and left a thick charcoal residue all over my hands and anything else that it came into contact upon removal from its plastic sleeve. I got no problem if you're gonna spray your sleeves but there's ways to do it without turning the whole thing into a hazardous waste situation! But it's cool, I'll live. I'll live even more because the sounds on the record were pretty good, too. If I got the backstory right, Chauchat began as a solo outlet for Pennsylvania (I think) singer/songwriter Tyler Whitney, and has now been expanded to include various other troubadours such as Erik Sahd on drums and Pascal Troemel on additional vocals and piano in this instance. Upon reading that Chauchat had made fans/friends out of folks like the Mountain Goats and Bright Eyes (Bright Eyes?!), I grew - to put it mildly - somewhat skeptical. But then I reminded myself that I own some Dream Theater albums, so who was I to cast any judgement, right?
Sure and suitably enough, "The Cough of a Crane" begins with a coupla tracks that are just as dirty and grimy as the sleeve it comes in - filth-laden, grungy (the adjective not the genre) ancient/lost sounding loner attic one-track jams, just as Jandekian as they are potentially Oberstian. But way way more heinously groused, somewhere along the lines of Ariel Pink and Mark Tucker's 70's classic out disc "Bat Stew". But from those tracks the LP takes a hard left straight into full-band snotty indie pop on "Guenther", very in the vein of Sonic Youth, Neutral Milk Hotel or the Jesus and Mary Chain. Caught me off guard to say the least but it still possessed that homey jamming with your buds in your mom's living room with one microphone in the middle and lots of sunlight pouring in through the bay window - it was nice like that, no fake. "Lights/Garbage" and "Acrobatiz" return to the solo arti-fucked broken folk style of the first few with the latter coming off as particularly devastating - a beautiful solo guitar strum set to the oozing plasma of a melting keyboard's death rattle. It's a what I envision to be a good Saturday night/Sunday morning drunken post-heartache listen. Side two is in the same style as the previous, alternating solo acoustic numbers with full band efforts like "Sleeping Sickness". My preference leans towards Whitney (mostly) solo - "Depart" is a ghostly "Skip" Spence downer-n'-out anthem and the multi-voiced post-punk-smeared dollop of "Carter and Macrae" is both dreary and charming. "Piano Fight" is the last track and it's a lo-fi instrumental batter, one of many such snatches dispersed throughout the album inbetween the more fleshed-out song songs. Nevertheless it leaves your ears feeling as scuzzy and messy and your fingers will be trying to play the damn thing. But I assure you it's worth it. Anybody can make an LP these days but not anybody can write a good song - whether it's always my bag or not doesn't mean that I can't sincerely tell you Tyler Whitney doesn't write a great fucking song. - outer space gamelan
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My other morning listening as of late has been the completely wonderful new Chauchat LP The Cough of a Crane on the ever-dependable Unread Records of Landisville, PA. Somehow Chris F. of Unread has a way of coaxing a gauzy lo-fi desperate greatness out of everyone, which is really simpatico in Chauchat's case, because Tyler's songs sound really good with a touch of cassette hiss. The strongest Chauchat songs I've heard yet, too--great invisible-rock anthems and curling-inside-themselves acoustic songs that end up with me singing "rehabilitate tradition" over and over again in off-white endless Gresham. - crown of trinkets
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A quick word to the wise: while RetroLowFi will happily review anything sent our way, sending us your new album on vinyl will get you moved to the top of the stack all sorts of quicklike. We received a few albums from the Unread imprint not too long agao, and they encapsulated everything that could possibly get our attention about a record. They were printed on wax, recorded at home on primitive equipment, and the records themselves are as DIY as they come. For example, this album by Chauchat? The cover is an old copy of the soundtrack to Damn Yankees turned inside out, painted red with cover art adhered to the front with masking tape. That’s it.
And it rules.
On The Cough Of A Crane, Chauchat is a three-piece unit that’s all about the “vaccum cleaner” guitar sound of the early Jesus & Mary Chain records, with melodies that are every bit as brilliant as the most charming, yet lowest fidelity moments of Sebadoh III. Of course, the aformentioned vaccum is capable of emitting many different notes and moods, but it takes some getting used to - even though it’s usually just bridging tracks together. But once you’re in the Chauchat groove, The Cough Of A Crane becomes a really fabulous experimental indie rock record.
You know, I almost fogot to mention that there are quite a few actual songs here that go far above your average basement soundscapes. The best of which here are the propulsive “Guenther”, the rollicking attack of “Depart”, and the too-gorgeous-to-go-unnoticed “Depart”. It’s mostly downbeat, but versatile enough to warrant repeated listenings. And believe you me… I’ve been spinning it a lot since it came in the mail. It’s such a mysteriously minimalistic package that I keep replaying it hoping to unlock some hidden internal secret about Chauchat that probably doesn’t exist anyways. Or maybe it does. I’m complex.
Chauchat’s The Cough Of A Crane comes equipped with this reviewers highest recommendation. I’m just afraid that once I hear more of their stuff, their records might become a full-on addiction… - RETRO LOW-FI