Sam Coffey And The Iron Lungs Live At The Phoenix (Photoset)
All Photos by Shannen Frost & Jesse Read
Sam Coffey And The Iron Lungs opening the show at The Phoenix for Canadian Music Week’s 40th Anniversary Launch Party! The band shared the stage with Crown Lands and BRKN Love. 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.”