The Coffee Sergeants
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The Coffee Sergeants

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The best kept secret in music


"3. Coffee Sergeants, Consolation Has No Phone... (Monkey's Paw)"

This Austin quartet has quietly become one of the best psychedelic pop bands in the world.

Day jobs and families have kept Austin’s long-running psychedelic pop quartet the Coffee Sergeants from taking full advantage of their own talent. The band makes consistently great records that never quite find the larger audience they deserve, since the group doesn’t tour and it’s not affiliated with a larger label. But this also means the Sergeants have the luxury of making records for themselves, not to have product to feed the double-headed demon dog of corporate commerce and touring expenses. The foursome can take its time, carefully crafting songs and recordings designed to last the ages instead of just to take up a few minutes between radio commercials. The latest result of this hard work is the band’s third CD Consolation Has No Phone, the band’s most streamlined and concise album yet. The Sergeants have pulled their various influences from the realms of folk, psychedelia and pop together for a seamless alloy of melody and fire, craft and heart. The band puts together a perfect balance of ballsy rock ("In the Morning," "Aunt Virginia"), chiming pop ("Look Around," "I Wanna Hold You"), contemplative balladry ("Knockout in Your Day," "Blue All Down the Line") and its patented brand of shimmering psychedelic folk rock ("Pictures of Mr. Stanley’s Life," "Before the Shine"). Singer/songwriter Carey Bowman is in top form; every tune has a memorable melody and a solid emotional core, and he’s also one of the few rock/pop tunesmiths working that makes good use of waltz time check "Days On the Hill" and "You Should Know" for confirmation. Bowman’s tasteful guitar work and Mike Barnett’s warm keyboards and lush acoustic guitar strumming compliment the songs and performances unobtrusively but perfectly. The clean, instantly appealing sound combines with the excellent songs and strong performances to make Consolation Has No Phone… the best Coffee Sergeants record so far.

-Michael Toland, Texas Music - Pop Culture Press 2002 Top 10

"Jay Trachtenberg"

Those of us who are refugees from the Sixties will feel a certain affinity for the Coffee Sergeants if for no other reason than the longtime local band's dead-on re-creation of the dreamy soundscapes that characterized much of that decade's "underground" musical ambiance. Known to take long periods of hiatus between cycles of recordings and live performances, the group's new project, their second CD, retains the Coffee Sergeants' penchant for gentle, trance-like psychedelia with billowy layers of guitars and keyboards. Taking a cue from early Pink Floyd, but also reminiscent of the Doors, Jefferson Airplane, and White Album-era Beatles, the Sergeants seem content to float along at their own leisurely pace as if they were just released from a time capsule and were exploring the 21st century with the wide-eyed wonderment of an Age of Aquarius flower child. Ironically perhaps, Carey Bowman's trippy lyrics often put voice to a dark world of understated angst, alienation, and lost opportunities. While Bowman's delivery melds perfectly into the texture of the music, his words too often get swallowed up within the waves of sound being generated by the band. That sound, while dominated by the aforementioned layering of guitars, acoustic and electric, owes much to Mike Barnett's adept use of various keyboards, particularly the organ, in creating cumulus cushions of color, both dark and bright. The Coffee Sergeants may be a throwback to another era, but that hasn't prevented them from garnering a dedicated following nor from producing a "far out" album.

- Austin Chronicle


Moonlight Towers
The Blessing House
Consolation Has No Phone
Autumn Days


Feeling a bit camera shy


Austin's Coffee Sergeants is a cult band even in its own hometown, which is a shame, as the quartet is quite simply one of the best contemporary psychedelic pop bands in the world, right up there with the Green Pajamas and the Bevis Frond. El-Ariesh, the Sergeants' fourth album (sixth if you count their cassette-only releases from the early 90s), is as fine an album of dreamy acid pop as you're likely to hear this year. Guitarist Carey Bowman has always been a fine songwriter with little difficulty in coming up with an album's worth of sharp tunes, but on this record there's a sense of flow, as if all the songs were written of a piece. Even the cuts penned by bassist Spencer Berry, stepping up to the plate for the first time as the Colin Moulding to Bowman's Andy Partridge, fit seamlessly. The title song starts off the record with the kind of dreamy Middle Eastern tonalities that the Sergeants are so fond of (and adept at), drifting along its melody like a boat down the Nile. "El Ariesh" leads into "If You Were Mine," a fragile love song that makes the most of its gentle tempo and beautiful melody, moving a bit more purposefully than the prior tune, but still at a leisurely pace. This in turn precedes "Hey Firecracker," a Berry cut that starts off slow but quickly kicks into a tight little pop tune. And so it goes for the rest of the record—easy-paced acid ballads like "Low Ceiling" and "Mr. Believer" alternate with faster, more overtly melodic rock tunes like "Champion of the Worms" and "Far End of the Dial" for a program that keeps the line moving without ever jostling the patrons. The album ends with "Sonrise," a lovely Berry ballad that sends it gently off into the night. El Ariesh is yet another excellent record from one of America's best-kept psychedelic secrets. Michael Toland [buy it]