The Coral is that rare current British band that holds no debt to either Radiohead or the Strokes. The Coral is in fact incomparable to any of its fellow Brit bands. Instead it has forged its own path, mostly through the history of California sounds. This group is so left field that even that description does its schizophrenic rock no justice.

The Coral is that rare current British band that holds no debt to either Radiohead or the Strokes. Though it was formed partly as an Oasis cover band, the Coral is in fact incomparable to any of its fellow Brit bands (save, maybe, Gomez). Instead it has forged its own path, mostly through the history of California sounds. That means that the songs on the Coral’s self-titled Columbia/Deltasonic debut run the gamut from ’50s doo-wop to ’60s surf and psychedelia, ’70s folk and punk rock and – most unusually – sea chanties from the 1800s or before. Truth be told, most of the band’s songs probably wouldn’t sound out of place on the soundtrack to the upcoming “Pirates of the Caribbean” film, and that’s a compliment: This group is so left field that even that description does its schizophrenic rock no justice.

Like many in the history of quirk pop, the Coral seems oblivious (or uncaring) of its all-over-the-place sound. Free-jazz freakouts become raging death-metal solos; well-versed pop hooks devolve into oompah riffs; and a story song about working-class men has the lead character transforming into a plant. With most of the band members still in their teens, this all becomes very exciting; if they’re this bizarre now, imagine the versatility of their output when they’ve had some time to mature.

The late Frank Zappa would likely be proud of how his music has influenced this band; he’s one of the few notable artists to which the Coral warrants a comparison. Another, though, is Ween, which has recently found a new career playing for fans of jam bands like Phish. The Coral would be wise to follow this path – it was obvious that a set-ending 20-minute-plus version of “Goodbye” showcased just the beginning of what this band could accomplish if it added more improvisation into an already overflowing sonic stew.

The Coral

House of Blues; 1,000 capacity; $14

Production

Presented inhouse.

Cast

Band: James Skelly, Ian Skelly, Nick Power, Bill Ryder-Jones, Lee Southall, Paul Duffy. Reviewed May 20, 2003.
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