Home > TheRest > Trenchcoat Club – College Radio Won’t Play This, It’s Not On a Major Label

Trenchcoat Club – College Radio Won’t Play This, It’s Not On a Major Label

Caveat Emptor Records, 1995

Back in the nineties I listened to a decent amount of independent music due to being a college radio show disc jockey.  There was some really good stuff to be found off the main market, but much of it was completely forgettable.  When I saw the debut disc from Trenchcoat Club lying amidst a humongous stack of exiled discs at a local record shop it brought back some memories.  Of the few groups I grew particularly acquainted with in those radio days, these guys I remembered fondly.  So despite the budget cover design and the image that could be considered as foreshadowing regarding the music featured within, I quickly scooped this one up to relive a little.

Trenchcoat Club is mainly just two clever guys from Athens, GA.  Since I’m familiar with a few of these songs from back when I first heard the record, I’ll dwell on some of the better ones.  “Save the Ants” is a riff on the usual environment or animal support from the populace, even if it defends those pesky insects that seem to find themselves all over the place.  The main message is “Ants have a place/and it’s not between your toes”, which is debatable.

“Pruneberry Crunch” is a light-hearted ditty about a cereal with the most sugar, crunch, and, er, prunes.  It also introduces the best foul-mouthed mascot in Pitty the Prune, who hates your family but whose “life is a laxative”.  Pitty, I’d watch your commercials anytime.

My favorite track on the disc is “Theme From Knight Rider”, which essentially has the band playing the theme show’s bass riff continuously while a guy provides critical commentary regarding the show.  He delivers it in a ‘too cool for you’ voice, which one could consider to be Michael Knight’s look from the 1982 program.  He spends most of the time discussing the absurdity of some of the car’s abilities as well as characters, only to change the channel mid-song and get into “CHiPs” and “The Love Boat”.  Stream of consciousness is usually a risk in music, but when it comes off as a lark already then it’s amusing all the way.

“Summer of ’63 (I Wanna Be Frozen)” has a peppy sound that could be construed as a song that might be construed as slightly serious.  Woah!  It is primarily driven by a light keyboard that gives it that upbeat feel, and even though the tune came out fifteen years ago it could easily fit on any modern lo-fi record.  I suppose that if any song could step away from sounding like it was made in a basement on a drunken late night in Athens, (sort of like the rest of this record), it’s this one.

If one gets past some of muted sound and quality of some of the tracks, one can hear the members of Trenchcoat Club comment on a few aspects of the time.  “Sellout Song ’89” name drops Julie Brown, Paula Abdul and even Milli Vanilli in its distaste for the commercialism of MTV.  Heck, I’d take that MTV these days anytime.  The Milkmenish “Hello Dahlonega” doesn’t have a lot of grunge era references, but it does cheerily feature a band struggling to be accepted.  They recommend you have a few beers and then go see them open for the headlining crew of “dwarf-tossing midgets”.  I’m there, dudes.

I was shocked that they have a MySpace page, if only because it’s hard to find anything that proves they exist on the internet.

I can’t find these guys on Allmusic.  You can actually get their follow up album “Hitch Your Station Wagon to a Star” for a dime on Amazon.  I don’t even know where you could get this album I’m reviewing … well, if you even wanted to get it.  Admittedly, this whole review is based on a combination of nostalgia, a fondness of They Might Be Giants and the Dead Milkmen, and an appreciation of a band that had some music ability while dishing out a lot of tongue in cheek.  Although you would be hard pressed to find anyone who has heard Trenchcoat Club, never mind owning a copy of an album of theirs, maybe you might find something of theirs when combing a large quantity of dusty music.

The band hasn’t put out anything since 2002 and, given that it has been quite awhile, it is doubtful there will be a resurgence of output from the duo.  I imagine if one wants to hear their humor in the form of music they can pick up the usual TMBG or Ween disc.  However, if anyone is thinking of starting a band that focuses more on the laughs than the music then they should know that there’s certainly a willing listening audience out there.

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  1. Christopher Teodorski
    October 28, 2016 at 9:53 am

    I found this album in a used bin, circa 1996. I was in college and I would spend hours going through that used bin looking for gems. This was one. I loved this album….I wish I could find out more about them.

    • -evan-
      October 29, 2016 at 10:47 am

      Yeah, it does seem like they kind of just disappeared, which is a pity as I found that their seemingly unrehearsed quirkiness to be very enjoyable. Oh well, a one and done gem!

  2. Nathan Baker
    November 21, 2016 at 3:24 am

    The Trenchcoat Club were a great, hilarious comedy band that were adept at sharing their inside jokes with their listeners, especially their obsession with the Leprechaun movies. They used to have a website at trenchcoatclub.com. It’s still visible via the Wayback Machine. From their defunct site: “The Trenchcoat Club is an Athens-based band made up of two cousins, John & Travis, who began writing music together as a way to endure tedious family get-togethers. The music is a hodge-podge of various influences, including They Might Be Giants, the Ramones, XTC, REM and many others.” One of the cousins become a patent attorney and moved to Washington, D.C. many years ago. I just looked him up and according to his LinkedIn profile, he is now a senior attorney with FedEx.

    • -evan-
      November 23, 2016 at 2:34 pm

      Thanks for the info! Didn’t know about the Leprechaun influences, of all things. It also goes to show that being a part of a comedy band could lead to illustrious careers, right?

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