Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs

Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs

Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs are a power pop band from Toronto. Formed by Coffey, a former mechanic’s apprentice from Kitchener, Ontario, with it’s members collected from various Ontario small towns, they rapidly ingratiated themselves with Toronto’s punk scene. The band released a stream of DIY singles before signing to Oakland punk/garage rock label Southpaw Records (Ty Segall, Young Guv) for their Gates of Hell LP in 2014, which received praise from outlets like Pitchfork, Spin and Noisey. Touring extensively and playing with bands like Redd Kross, Black Lips, Screaming Females and The FLAMIN’ GROOVIES, Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs have become regulars in DIY venues up and down the East Coast.

The band have been working on their follow up for almost two years, and in that time have developed from the lo-fi aesthetic of their earlier releases to recording for the first time in a real studio. Working with producer Alex Bonenfant (METZ, Crystal Castles) these songs embrace Coffey’s abiding love for, and near encyclopedic knowledge of 70s glam and power pop in the interest of evolving past their garage roots to make what Coffey calls “downtown music.” This potent brand of guitar pop draws influence from a broad swath of the genre’s history, including acts like Big Star, Dwight Twilley, Cheap Trick, Teenage Fanclub, Kiss, The Undertones and The Exploding Hearts. It’s a sound that at once revels in a rough and anarchic feel, best exemplified by Coffey’s impassioned wail of a singing voice, while displaying a deft and at times sophisticated approach to songwriting and arrangement. The Iron Lungs employ harmonized leads, call and response backing vocals and a seemingly endless supply of shout along choruses, as Coffey empathetically presents a collection of nostalgia-tinged dramas about teenage suburban isolation and escape rooted in an unshakeable belief in the transformative power of guitar music. It’s an ambitious record, and one where obvious care has been taken to refine every element of the finished product. It’s an ambition that even on the 9+ minute epic medley that makes up most of the record’s second side, never crosses over into pretension, perhaps because it clearly comes from an place total sincerity. As Coffey puts it, “honestly, I just wanna rock.”

Born from the sweat, swoon and swagger of the long running East Van Soul Club, the group’s reverence for Northern Soul all-nighters and storming Motown hits is measured in nods, not knock offs.

Barry drums, Tyler thumbs bass, Jason sings and plays guitar, while Jesse plays an organ and sings some songs too. Together on a stage, they are Uptights. It’s what these four gentlemen from Vancouver, Canada call the wild, whirring patterns of sound they’re developing in an effort to transform dark static rooms filled with disparate crowds into audiences that respond in unison to the jumpy, jittery rhythms of perfectly executed power pop.

What brought Uptights together? Fate? Chance? A shared love of Nick Low, The Clash, and The Replacements? Or a combination of them all? We can only speculate. But one thing is certain, despite the band’s recent formation, the sound of Uptights was a long time coming. It was cast from the elements of several seminal bands: Tyler Mountenay from the Parallels and Tranzmitors; Jason Stevenson from Edmonton’s Falklands; Barry Higginson from the Vancouver- based Doers and Previous Tenants; and finally Jesse Gander, who, when not playing in Ghosthouse and Black Rice, produced albums for bands like White Lung, Pack AD and Japandroids.

Now that they’re together, under one moniker, the listener stands to benefit most. The early months of 2015 spawned their first singles online: Edge of the Earth, and Some People, which led to countless shows in and around Vancouver, and a trip to Calgary’s Sled Island festival. It’s safe to say the Uptights’ sound is in full delivery mode. There will be more coming too, as they continue their mission to regenerate the thought that music should be an escape into a place that’s easy to access, and that once you’re there, you’ll be among friends.

Pet Blessings

Pet Blessings is a band from Vancouver. Members of Molten Lava, Low Levels and Black Mastiff.

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