The Raincoats, The Raincoats
A classic that's punk, folk-punk or post-punk, but also none of the above
In an interview in 1980, John Lydon was asked to name his favorite new bands. His answer, polemic and angry, was to call rock "dismal," with the exception of just one band: The Raincoats, an all-girl post-punk group with a very unique sound.
The Raincoats were formed when Ana da Silva and Gina Birch, two art school students from London, picked up a few secondhand instruments, bonded over Patti Smith and formed a band of their own. After a year of playing local spots, they recorded their 1979 debut for pioneering U.K. label Rough Trade. Since then, that album has gained something along the lines of cult status. Kurt Cobain famously wrote about his sheepish quest to acquire a new copy in the liner notes of Incestiside, and later used his influence to have all three of the group's records reissued by major label behemoth, Geffen.
All the praise is well-deserved: The Raincoats have been held in high regard for more than 30 years for their DIY attitude and the ability to develop a unique and radical voice out of — or, some would say, in spite of — their amateurism.
The sound on this album has no timestamp — it's punk, folk-punk or post-punk, sure, but it's also none of the above. The recording of this album included the group's four original members: Birch on vocals/bass, Da Silva on vocals/guitar, Vicky Aspinall on violin and Palmolive, former member of the Slits, on drums. Thanks largely to Palmolive, Raincoats is a very rhythmic affair, especially on "Fairytale in The Supermarket" and "Black and White," where each of Birch's and Da Silva's vocal howls is complimented by either a pound of the bass or a snare roll. Aspinall provides a violin sound way out of the comfort zone of her classical training, mixing it with Da Silva's clean guitar riffs. On "No Side to Fall In," the violin is more like a fiddle, playing somewhere between country and folk.
Although the whole album is a classic, standouts "In Love" and "Fairytale in The Supermarket" are practically required listening. Raincoats remains as it was when it was first released: effortlessly intimate and creative.