Codeine (band)

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Codeine - Alexandra Palace London 260512.jpg
Codeine playing one of their first reunion shows at I'll Be Your Mirror, Alexandra Palace, London, May 2012
Background information
OriginNew York City, New York, United States
GenresIndie rock, post-rock
Years active1989–1994, 2012
Associated actsCome, Rex, HiM, June of 44
MembersStephen Immerwahr
John Engle
Chris Brokaw
Past membersDoug Scharin

Codeine was an American indie rock band formed in 1989 in New York City and later based in Chicago.[1] They released two full-length albums—Frigid Stars LP in 1990 and The White Birch in 1994. The band broke up in 1994 shortly after the release of The White Birch, but reunited to play a handful of shows in 2012.

Due to the band's slow and depressing musical style, they are credited as a pioneering act of what is known as "slowcore" or "sadcore".[2][3][4]


Codeine was formed by members Stephen Immerwahr (vocal, bass), Chris Brokaw (drums), and John Engle (guitar).[5][6] Codeine pioneered the slowcore and sadcore subgenres of indie rock,[5][7] but with a more experimental attitude than other bands in the genre, such as Low, Idaho and Red House Painters. The band's original tone, marked by slow tempos, Immerwahr's nasal vocals, and Engle's ringing Telecaster, stayed consistent during their career.

Codeine released their first album Frigid Stars LP on the German label Glitterhouse in August 1990. The album was released on Sub Pop in the Spring of the following year.[6]

The Barely Real EP was released in November 1992. Immerwahr rejected several of the songs after the recording session. Some of these songs would be re-recorded for the final album. The song "W." is a solo performance on piano by David Grubbs (of Bastro, Squirrel Bait and Gastr del Sol). A somewhat different full-band version of the song appears on Codeine's next album, now titled "Wird".

Brokaw left the band after the release of Barely Real to play full-time with his other band Come, and after Josh Madell of Antietam replaced him temporarily for a US tour, he was replaced permanently by Rex drummer Doug Scharin.[5]

Codeine's final release was the full-length album The White Birch, released in May 1994.[6] David Grubbs also participated on the album. After this release, the band broke up. Doug Scharin continued in Rex and June of 44, and later as the band leader of HiM.[5] Following the demise of Come, original drummer Chris Brokaw became a solo artist and itinerant musician, including playing drums for The New Year and playing guitar with Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth and with Christina Rosenvinge.[6]


In February 2012, Codeine announced it would perform on the request of Mogwai at All Tomorrow's Parties' sister event, I'll Be Your Mirror, on 26 May 2012 in London, United Kingdom at Alexandra Palace, along with other shows, to commemorate a comprehensive reissue of their recordings by The Numero Group in June 2012.[8][9] Codeine's final reunion show was at Le Poisson Rouge in New York on 15 July 2012.[10]



Extended plays[edit]


  • Castle/Losida Slide Codeine/Surgery split 7" (1990, Glitterhouse)[11]
  • Valmead/Pea Bitch Magnet/Codeine split 7" and 12" (1990, The Communion Label)
  • Pickup Song 7" (1990, Glitterhouse)
  • D 7" (1990, Glitterhouse, Sub Pop)
  • A L'Ombre De Nous (In Our Shadow)/Produkt Bastro/Codeine split 7" (1991, Sub Pop, Glitterhouse)
  • Realize/Broken Hearted Wine 7" (1992, Sub Pop)
  • Sassy Codeine/Velocity Girl/Beat Happening/Sebadoh split 7" (1992, Sub Pop)
  • Ides/Working Holiday Codeine/The Coctails split 7" (1993, Simple Machines)
  • Tom 7" (1993, Sub Pop)



  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Weingarten, Christopher. "Slowcore Pioneers Codeine Announce Reunion Tour". SPIN.COM. Retrieved 18 June 2013.
  3. ^ Parish, Matt. "'90s slow-core pioneers Codeine return". Boston Globe 28/6/2012. Retrieved 18 June 2013.
  4. ^ Mason, Stewart. "Codeine Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 18 June 2013.
  5. ^ a b c d Mason, Stewart "Codeine Biography", Allmusic, Retrieved 26 June 2011
  6. ^ a b c d Strong, Martin C. (2003) The Great Indie Discography, Canongate, ISBN 1-84195-335-0, p. 679-680
  7. ^ Pareles, Jon (1 July 2012). "Grunge's Estranged, Desolate Cousins: Codeine, with Stephen Brodsky, at Bell House". The New York Times. New York. Retrieved 21 July 2012
  8. ^ "The Numero Group". Retrieved 4 March 2012.
  9. ^ "". Retrieved 4 March 2012.
  10. ^ "". Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  11. ^ "". Retrieved 4 March 2012.

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