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Formed during Bloomington, IN’s early-oughts heyday, in recent years, The Coke Dares have morphed into a long distance project for guitarist Jason Groth and bassist Pete Schreiner (Raleigh, NC) and drummer Mark Rice (Philadelphia).
From the beginning, The Coke Dares was a power trio of such unrivaled energy and charisma that Jason Molina tapped its members to form his Magnolia Electric Co. While The Coke Dares expertly handled Molina’s gorgeous and soulful rock songs, their own music has always had more in common with tightly-wound punks like Minutemen and Wire, quirky pop eggheads like Sparks, a low brow humor reminiscent of AM country and Frank Zappa, and the unpredictable metric shifts of prog rock. On record, this mixtape-style patchwork of influences blends together seamlessly into a rollicking, rapid- re stream of consciousness that’s a perfect companion to the band’s famously intense live shows while calling to mind classic marathon albums like Pink Flag and Alien Lanes.
With so many musical touchstones, and three songwriter/vocalists, a typical record by The Coke Dares can be a lot to digest. And at 35 songs in 44 minutes, their most recent album, Fake Lake, could be the band’s most sprawling, diverse, and rewarding. After a brief instrumental palate cleanser, Fake Lake opens in earnest with “You Say a Lot,” an irresistibly sarcastic piece of Devo mutant pop that quickly transitions to an extremely short ode to pencils (“Editor”) that’s equal parts dream pop and faux-country ballad. From there, the album tumbles from one mood to another, featuring obtusely wistful travelogues and road memoirs (“We Went to a Restaurant,” “Jammin’ with J-Mo”), radio airplay-defying bathroom talk (“Please Say Fuck,” “Came to Shit”), and literally dozens of other future-classic earworms.
The Coke Dares live in different places and they still love to play live. Fake Lake is both a live and lived-in record, one that takes a few chances The Coke Dares didn’t have time to take when they were too busy playing live all the time.
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