In the red

SEXCoffee amp it up on The Morning After
By CHRIS CONTI  |  September 2, 2009

SEXCoffee could be on their way to something bigger

A handful of Phoenix readers questioned the parameters of what exactly defined a "Breakthrough Act" in our recent Best Music Poll, decided in dominant fashion by alt-rock quartet SEXCoffee. What exactly constitutes a band playing together for six years as finally "breaking through?" Well, it isn't titled "Best "New" Act," if that helps. The band, however, seemed to get the point.

"We have been an established band for quite awhile, [but] our popularity seems to have risen significantly within the past year," SEXCoffee drummer Paul Campbell said via email this week. "We were very surprised and excited by the BMP victory."

Years ago, bassist Sharlene DeNardo answered an ad from Ruth Charbonneau, who was looking to start an all-female folk-rock band. The duo reconfigured and added Campbell and guitarist Rick Gallego, and the foursome eventually released their 2007 full-length debut The Drink You Paid For.

That said, SEXCoffee could be on their way to something bigger with their second official release, The Morning After (both available at iTunes), a five-track EP that more fully demonstrates the band's overall talents. They anticipate a packed house for their CD release part at the Blackstone come Saturday, with supporting help from hand-picked, female-fronted openers VulGarrity and the Chelsy Lau Band. SEXCoffee debuted some new, Vinny Paz-approved stuff at the recent BMP party at Lupo's. "We took a band photo with him and gave him a T-shirt — it was great," said Gallego, who noted that the band was "definitely nervous, but more excited than anything" prior to their first time on the Lupo's stage. Some initial jitters were quickly shurgged off, and their heavy-hitting new stuff kept the crowd engaged.

Skimming through SEXCoffee's laundry-list of '9os rock influences like Letters to Cleo and Alanis Morissette should come as no surprise upon hearing the debut record. Charbonneau has never played the babe-in-the-woods routine — witness the Sleater-Kinney-style romp of "Last Night" into the brooding "Cover My Eyes," where she sneeringly delivers couplets such as "I'll teach you how a man's supposed to be/I'll lift you up until I set you free." While there are no newfound chords or groundbreaking techniques on The Morning After, the muscular guitars and levels in-the-red have brought the band new life, pinning the throttle early on with openers "Damascus" and "Love, Lust," easily the best entry in their current catalog. Gallego's big drop-D tunings provide a fitting backdrop to Charbonneau's spirited and sexy venom. Both "Nothing Left" and "Tasty" settle in before busting out on the hooks, and Charbonneau sticks to the game plan with her take-no-shit attitude while displaying an improved, more dynamic vocal range.

Gallego reports a nationwide tour remains a priority and confidently reports the band will "definitely be looking into labels with the new release.

"This EP gives everyone a better idea as to what the SEXCoffee sound is all about," he said.

SEXCoffee continues to receive left-coast love from the Cali-based, where the band has been in rotation and will stream an interview with the quartet on September 4.

As for the band name, DeNardo explained:

"Ruth came up with the name three years ago while trying to sum up the dating scene. The phrase 'Would you like to come up for coffee?' stuck out to us as a double-meaning for something other than just 'Coffee.' "

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