It's great to revisit John Dwyer's old band, Coachwhips, in light of Thee Oh Sees' success. The group's 2003 record, Get Yer Body Next Ta Mine, more than their 2002 debut, sounds like a great stand alone rock record.
Thee Oh Sees frontman and Castle Face Records head John Dwyer doesn't seem like the kind of guy who sits still long enough to look backwards. He took a brief hiatus with Thee Oh Sees last year, only to record a record on his own as Damaged Bug, and then brought back Thee Oh Sees with a new record (this year's Drop) and a new line-up. On Castle Face, he's also been cranking out, among other things, the excellent Live in San Francisco series featuring the likes of FUZZ and White Fence.
Yet Dwyer has still found time to reflect on and revisit the past. Dwyer fronted Coachwhips from 2001 to 2005, and after reissuing that band's debut, Hands on the Controls, he's now dusted off the band's second record, Get Yet Body Next Ta Mine. As with the band's debut, there's a fair amount of loud scuzz to sift through to get to these songs, but if Hands on the Controls was a sort of genesis story, with faint ties to the excellent, tight, and exploratory Oh Sees' records that were to come, Get Yet Body Next Ta Mine plays like a leap forward, not a birth but a growth.
Dwyer claims the record has been remastered, and it sounds vital and tense, though it's hard to tell what's been shined up here. There are moments where the vocals feel a bit clearer, but for the most part this remaster simply gives us what was once out of print. That is, of course, plenty. Coachwhips was often a band where Dwyer could indulge in a call and response between him and his guitar. Check the fiery, crunching argument the two engage in on opener "I Put It In, Way Down South" or the slicing notes and soulful woahs of "Hey Stiffie". "UFO, Please Take Her Home" takes this dynamic to its biggest, bluesiest extreme, as Dwyer slows the band down to bend notes and carve out space between chugging sprints.
If the song titles don't inspire thoughts of maturity, the music itself is loud and tight enough to drown out much of that lyrical focus. It's the seriousness of the hooks, the infectious zeal of the rhythm section, Dwyer's scuffed up vocals rendered mostly incoherent by fuzz, that convey all the emotion and charge the album needs. There's also a far more refined approach to melody than on Hands on the Controls. Though this is still about pure speed and sound on one level, there are still moments that show the underlying care in song craft. "1000 Years" has one of the catchiest chord progressions on the record, and the band is smart enough to clear out for the perfect vocal hook on the chorus. "Like Food, It Feeds" is impossibly fast, but also a perfect dose of blues-inspired punk, one that lets the guitars carry the melodic weight (and they carry it well). The closing title track is far and away the longest song here, and the one that owes the most direct lineage to blues. It also shows the ambition and musicianship Coachwhips worked so hard to hide under layers of fuzz.
Hands on the Control was so worried about revealing its pop and blues sensibilities it all but tripped over them to reach the volume knob. On their second album, Coachwhips found a much better balance. This is another great step on the way to better records that would come later on in Dwyer's career. It's hard to argue with the visceral reaction this kind of energetic rock music brings out of the listener, even if songs like "Manner in Which the Girl was Treated" or "Other Man" can pass by without notice in the process. It's great to revisit Coachwhips in light of Thee Oh Sees' success. But more than its predecessor, Get Yer Body Next Ta Mine sounds like a great stand alone rock record.