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music

the Raincoats

Somewhere out there on an emblematic night, a crew-cut singer sets the pace for a mosh-pit hoe-down with a hurried “1-2-3-4!” In the current punk revival, loud fast rules; the rudimentary hardcore of the past has just become better produced, more tuneful, easier to chew—like bubblegum.

But the crude, cathartic pleasures of the Ramones, Sex Pistols, and Black Flag were always only one aspect of Janus-faced punk. Kurt Cobain understood this, on the day he went in search of the Raincoats’ tough-to-find first album, setting off a chain of events that caused the London band to reunite. Cobain cherished the Raincoats partly because they were obscure (broken up since 1984, their albums out of print), partly because they were women and he was sick of grunge testosterone, but mostly because their offbeat pop experiments spoke of a world far removed from his own demanding commercial milieu. Ironically,

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