In honor of this lovely weather we're having here in LA, I'm going to blog about the so-called Raincoat scene. Before Goth -- for that matter, before New Grave, Dark Wave, Cold Wave or any of those other Ren Fair-reeking or overly categorized scenes, the British music press took to lumping together a bunch of bands and their fans and calling them "raincoats." Why? Because since their invention in the 1850s, nothing has silently and eloquently conveyed, "I'm dark, brooding and Romantic" like slouching in a trench coat. OK, it could also convey, "I'm stealing porn and not wearing clothes underneath." That's a different sort of Raincoat Brigade.
The earliest usage of "raincoat" in this sense that I've found is in an edition of NME. "1982 was also a year of recession in the U.K. A broken economy, you could argue, enabled both genres to flourish: sleek synth-pop helped people transcend national gloom, glowering raincoat-rock authorised them to wallow in it."
The color of raincoats is gray, not black. The chronicler has to be Anton Corbijn. The god of raincoats is Ian Curtis… or maybe Heathcliff (not the cat). I thought no band ever described themselves as raincoats but The Cure's Robert Smith proved me wrong. "We were never Goths. When we started we were Raincoats -- although now I've forgotten exactly what that meant." What did it mean, beyond an intersection of meteorology and fashion? What else makes something "Raincoat Rock?" I'd say a bit of brittle, ringing and vaguely psychedelic guitar; some icy synths (optional), some cavernous production (ideally courtesy of Martin Hannett), and a post-punk sensibility. Perform in a minor key and serve in a drizzle-soaked, abandoned factory or a wind and rainswept seaside cliff.
Minutes of tireless internet research have found a surprising number of bands who've been labeled "Raincoat" on at least one occasion, including A Certain Ratio, Big Country, The Chameleons, Comsat Angels, Crispy Ambulance, The Cure, Echo & the Bunnymen, Eyeless in Gaza, Joy Division, The Mission (UK), The Names, New Order, The Psychedelic Furs, Sad Lovers and Giants, Section 25, Simple Minds, The Stockholm Monsters, Teardrop Explodes, U2, The Waterboys, and I'm sure others. Find me more and cite your sources!
Newer bands like British Sea Power, Interpol, East Ash, Marion, The White Lies, Ray, Editors, SISU, The Storm Society and Red Light Company clearly sonically referencing this hazily scene coupled with this winter weather in October means the time for a Raincoat revival amongst the kids is now!