If you had to name Milwaukee’s finest utility musician, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone better than Allen Coté. The Austin, Texas transplant has been a familiar presence in the linear notes of some of the best Milwaukee albums of the past few years, from The Championship and Juniper Tar to Buffalo Gospel and Heidi Spencer And The Rare Birds. Specializing mainly in lap steel and other alt-country-friendly instruments (and crossing over into production, as well), Coté has carved out a niche as the city’s go-to musician for sad, somber sounds and hushed, haunting textures.
But Coté isn’t simply a gun-for-hire; he has released a handful of albums over the years under his own name. His latest, The Sublimative Sessions Vol. 2: Darling Hall (RIP), is a lovely five-song collection of clear-eyed Americana, and comes complete with a doozy of a backstory: In addition to being recorded live in one afternoon at the now-defunct Darling Hall, with little or no rehearsal, Coté’s ad hoc band was fueled by Ernest Hemingway’s infamous Death in the Afternoon cocktail, a mixture of absinthe and Champagne. Per Hemingway:
“Pour one jigger absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly.”
Slowly drink the substance of your choice and listen to Coté’s album—featuring members of The Vega Star, Sugar Ransom, and Twin Brother—below.