Coughy - Ocean Hug - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Coughy - Ocean Hug

by Mark Moody Rating:8 Release Date:2019-03-29
Coughy - Ocean Hug
Coughy - Ocean Hug

Shortly after the release of the Beatles’ ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ some industrious sort figured out that maybe there was a not so veiled reference to LSD in the title.  It’s hard to say if the 20 scrambled single letter titled songs on Coughy’s album Ocean Hug relate to something as sneaky, but the trippy little songs here seem to have been produced under the influence of something.  As the story goes, Andy Molholt of Speedy Ortiz and Julian Fader of Ava Luna crossed paths at a musical summer camp and began an experiment of building tit-for-tat recorded snippets into a series of “songs”.  My one summer camp experience consisted of daily food fights (yes that was really a thing) and hoping my parents might pick me up early (they didn’t).  Molholt and Fader seem to have been a little more productive.  Technically, Ocean Hug is a bit of a compilation of earlier releases where the other six lettered songs of the alphabet were dropped, but who’s counting? 

The musically psychedelic collages that make up Ocean Hug all clock in at under two minutes and most well under that.  Some of the songs are truly odd like the tremulous ’T' that concerns itself with Tom’s third eye and the spoken word final track ‘C’ that sounds like it’s narrated by Barry White impersonating Tom Waits, even if it’s actually R. Stevie Moore.  But for the most part, the tracks either sound like lo-fi, but high-minded Brian Wilson demos or they flirt around with the 90s heyday of true lo-fi groups like Sebadoh or Sparklehorse - though the track 'S' sounds like neither.

Like one of those old fashioned flip-book animations, Ocean Hug begins to run its course quickly.  The drum machine and dream distorted lyrics of opening track ‘F’, as hazy sounding as it may be, is over before you know it.  Some early highlights come in ‘G’ and ‘V’.  The former filled with shakers and low-grade harmonies and the latter one of the blissed-out rave-ups that has a guitar part that sounds lifted from the breakout spot of Liz Phair’s ‘Divorce Song’.  If that’s too obscure a reference, the just as fine and lazy ‘M’ has the earworm melody from The Go Go’s ‘Our Lips Are Sealed’.  The later ‘K’, with it’s layered harmonies, is about as straightforward of a 60s pop-inflected tune as you will get here.  Whether you try and spot the references or just let Ocean Hug wash over you is up to you.  And back on that Lucy in the Sky/LSD thing, I understand there’s a rumor going around that the last five songs on the album may contain a secret message to the United Auto Workers of South Carolina.  If you play it backwards of course.

Certainly, the boys of Coughy didn’t set out to make an “important” album, but in the course of noodling around, they managed to come up with a fuzzy hearted little gem.  It’s a lot wackier than Tierra Whack’s even briefer experiment of last year, but like Whack World it also has heaps full of charm.  If for whatever reason you don’t like one of the snippets (though there really aren’t any duds here), just hang on a few moments for the next one.  There may be a handful of other fun 24-minute activities besides listening to Ocean Hug, but it’s definitely high up on the list.

   

 

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