Coffin Salesman – “Disappearing Acts”
Aria Rad I know as a singer/bassist/songwriter of The Radicals, a great, local punk/hardcore trio that sadly, met it’s demise a couple of years ago. (Attacked by a family of rabid raccoons).
Since then he plays bass in Jason Bennett & The Resistance and Live Nude Girls and now has a solo, acoustic thing that he’s too shy to put his own name on- and it’s called Coffin Salesman.
On the last release by The Radicals there was a slow, melancholy song called “Ghosts” much unlike all their other previously recorded material. It was my favorite song on that album. In fact, that song was my favorite song of the year.
Aria told me of his new project, he asked me to check it out. Not really for a review, he was just interested in my opinion of it.
When I saw him at a recent Welch Boys show, I had only listened to it once, fairly drunk, and I told him I liked it but was unsure if I would do a review as we’ve never had an acoustic review before.
I believe I know punk and I believe it’s not merely a sound but a feeling, an attitude, a philosophy.
I believe when lyrics are so frank and honest, raw and true to life as on this album, then they qualify as punk. And they’re delivered musically, with an urgent energy that suggests frustration and pain.
And I believe this album contains probably the best lyrics of any album I’ve ever reviewed.
“White Girl Wasted”- Sarah moved to New York City. She wanna be the next Bukowski…Chain smokes and slams a typewriter…Read “On The Road” three or four times..Now she’s a city girl with suburban roots. Spent 300 dollars on cowboy boots. Gets a copy painted on her jeans. Vintage records and amphetamines. You know her dad saw The Ramones in the seventies, and wants his daughter to be living free. But sometimes your memory gets way too close and way too hard to see…Good times turn to shit. Beatnik dreams turn to desk jobs pretty quick. And you know what say and it’s true. You do a pretty good impression of you.
“Easy Go”- He broke three strings the night that the band broke up. He was more than a little drunk. And he said he didn’t give a fuck. But I guess it’s virtue when no one wants to patch shit up. Sell off the vintage amp, you can pay the rent for at least two months…Aspiring author, full time waitress. Lights a spliff on her way home from work and she wonders what the bitter taste is? It’s easy come, easy go, breathe it in deep, let it out slow…You try to forget your first DUI. You take it easy on the booze spend the rest of your life getting fried…But no good decision happens after 3 am. You crash into your neighbor’s house…You know this place feels like a waiting room. Why don’t you just get up and go. And cars tell us just where we went wrong…She told me a secret I swore I’d keep. But I’ve already told you anything just to go the fuck back to sleep and all my excuses don’t matter now. You said you only get one chance to become somebody in the crowd.
“Don’t Ask Alice”- (an anti-drug song). Well you wouldn’t believe me if I told you the truth. I used to be just like you. Now, I’m hated by the lovers, scorned by the friends….And my days just feel the same. And I feel so numb, I beg for the pain. And hey, do I have to say it again? You’re far too young to have all these dead friends. It’s sweet relief when you feel it at first but when you scratch that itch it only gets worse. So you better thank your lucky stars. All your broken bones and battle scars. Anything to show that your still breathing.
“Waiting For Rain”- (the hit song). I know it’s been said that all’s been said before, and why do we even bother looking around for something more? You know I’m chained to a ghost town and I’m jaded and I’m bored. And everything you know I’ve ever felt I try the best to ignore…I try to do what’s right but I’m still wasted all my nights. And I’m waiting, I’m waiting for rain. To kick out the edge and dull out the pain…And where I keep my truth is just a hollow, empty void and all the songs I ever loved have faded to white noise… And I’ve got all these things in my gut that I can’t say. It’ll all catch up with me one day…’Cause I’m guilty of always staying the same. And I’m guilty of never trying to change. ‘Cause every chance I get, I piss it away.
I’m not pissing away my chance to say this is a wonderful song.
“Les Bon Temps-” (sounds the most like “Ghosts”). Can’t recognize the good times till they’re gone…In Montreal, polar nights, California- it’s all the same. A brand new coast on the same old plain…Sometimes the rails go right off track. You went walking in the woods and you didn’t come back. And these days, I still try to find salvation in a song. Gotta get the good times, before they’re gone.
Good times come and go but some truly great songs are right here.
These songs, these words reflect the heart of punk. Are words written at 3 am. (where only bad decisions are made). The inhabitants of these songs are city people- strung out, drunk or depressed; misguided, misplaced, yearning…aspiring artists and expiring addicts as the same. These songs are songs of the city with it’s sarcastic wisecracks hiding broken dreams, it’s cynicism spiraling down with lost hearts. Lives waiting for a break or a chance they may never get.
I’m not an envious person. I do not covet my neighbor’s wife. I’ve never had an ambition for material wealth, and with pretty girls I figure- it’s probably as much trouble for any pleasure you gain.
But I do covet writer’s words. Sometimes, I read them, and wish they were mine, that I had written them.
A ton of coveting went on with this review. I wish I owned all these lines Aria wrote. While I’m writing this, I’m plotting on ways to kill him and claim these songs are mine. I feel in some ways, I have the claim ticket, but then, in some ways- I feel you all do, too.
Some may say these songs are depressing, just like the best of Lou Reed, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits and Neil Young. But I’m honestly, glad to hear them, read them, embrace their pain and they give me hope and consolation to carry on but they also cause me to believe, that’s it’s really true.
That the best lack all conviction.