Seth Sher and Jon Ziemba of Coughs at Mr. City in October 2005
Seth Sher and Jon Ziemba of Coughs at Mr. City in October 2005 Credit: Philip Montoro

Nobody has ever whipped up such satisfying blurts and rumbles of demented, filthy noise as Coughs using so few notes and so many soup pots—and I’m not just saying that because they named themselves in joking homage to my old band Lozenge. (Lozenge, Coughs, get it?) They broke up in 2006, but they’ve turned out to be the gift that keeps on giving—the members of Coughs have started more than a dozen wildly varied groups since. Bassist Carrie Vinarsky and front woman Anya Davidson played bass and guitar (and both sang) in bad-vibes noise-rock outfit Cacaw. Percussionist Jon Ziemba now fronts no-wave torch-punk trio Bomb Banks. Keyboardist and saxophonist Jail Flanagan was in Learned Helplessness with guitarist Vanessa Harris and is now a member of Gula Gila, Box, and Forced Into Femininity (described by Gossip Wolf as “like Klaus Nomi singing opera accompanied by malfunctioning cash registers”). Harris, who’s moved to Oakland, plays in Sister­fucker, Stillsuit, and Mind Cemetery; original guitarist Kate Gronner (Harris’s predecessor) now lives in Providence, where she’s started a group called Teenage Waistband. Percussionist Seth Sher has been especially prolific: he masterminded minimalist zeuhl band Ga’an and triple-drummer monstrosity Akhkhazu, and he still plays in sequencer-and-drums solo project Psychic Steel, evil ambient three-piece Oakeater (whose next full-length comes out on Aaron Turner and Faith Coloccia’s label, Sige), and progressive thrash trio Zath (who have a seven-inch due on Ty Segall’s Drag City imprint, God?). No matter what these weirdos get up to, it’s worth your time.

Philip Montoro has been an editorial employee of the Reader since 1996 and its music editor since 2004. Pieces he has edited have appeared in Da Capo’s annual Best Music Writing anthologies in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011. He shared two Lisagor Awards in 2019 for a story on gospel pioneer Lou Della Evans-Reid and another in 2021 for Leor Galil's history of Neo, and he’s also split three national awards from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia: one for multimedia in 2019 for his work on the TRiiBE collaboration the Block Beat, and two (in 2020 and 2022) for editing the music writing of Reader staffer Leor Galil. You can also follow him on Twitter.