I've had an idea for a feature for Whiskey Pie for awhile in which I listen to an album/band for the first time and "live blog" the results. If you're a regular reader of Whiskey Pie, you might recall that I did this once for a Shellac album. However, I never came back to the idea because normally I'm too greedy and eager to listen to something alone instead of waiting to write about it as I give it a first spin. One of the more interesting aspects of music listening, at least to me, is the naked first impression of an album before you know anything about it, or more routinely, read any reviews. So!! This is my first true attempt at this thing, since I had skimmed some reviews of the Shellac album before getting it.
As for Cococoma, I've seen this album at my local record shop for a few months now. Every time I browse the vinyl section and sift through the 'Punk' area I stop on this one and stare at the cover. Something about it speaks to me on a fundamental level and reminds me of looking through my parents' records as a kid, not knowing anything about music, really, let alone the bands. For all I knew, Little Feat was the name of the album. In fact the cover for Little Feat's Down On The Farm obsessed me for awhile because, even pre-sexual awakening, I knew there was something naughty and wrong about the cartoon duck. Lest I come off as a furry (or feather-y...whatever) I should note that I don't find it sexy now and never did. Anyway...I wasn't entirely sure if Cococoma was a modern band or not, given the 1920s/1930s cartoon cover and the late 60s vibe of the one dude's glasses and the other dude's boots. Flipping the record over, I see that they have a girl in the band, so I'm guessing she's the one on the rocket.
Today, after trading in some CDs for store credit, I could no longer put off my curiosity about this band and this album. It had been there in the record bin like a reliable friend, staring out at me for months while I passed it over for other albums I actually knew about. "Hmmm," I'd think to myself, "I don't know...$10 is kind of cheap, but it's a Punk band I know nothing about..." I was feeling pretty magnanimous and wanted to rescue it from obscurity. And anyway, what's so wrong about buying something based only on the cover?? Let's give it a go, shall we??
1) I Swear: Oops, this is supposed to be played at 45 RPM!! The first time I listened to the Beatles's White Album I was sure there was something wrong with my parents's copy of it, since the version of 'Revolution' I knew was the fast, angry one, not the slower/surfier one on the album. I think the new Portishead album was released on double vinyl meant to be played at 45 RPM, too. But I digress. This song is like a trip back to the early years of this decade, when garage rock came back to popular prominence. Something very Hives-y about it.
2) Too Tired: Hey, an organ!! A Farfisa, no less. Ah, hey, a guitar solo. I hope the entire album is this spastic and fast.
3) Ain't You Had Enough?: I won't go for the easy joke here. But I will say that, like most garage rock, all the songs kind of sound the same. This isn't really a bad thing; in fact, I wish Animal Collective would release an album that was just variations on 'Leaf House' or 'Peacebone.'
4) Go Ahead: I can actually tell there's a girl in the band for the first time though she's still only on back-up vocals. This gives the song an...early 90s riot grrl vibe, though I'm being really reductionist because I can't think of any non-riot grrl punk bands with a chick in them. I just noticed that the drummer/lead singer and the chick/guitarist have the same last name. Married or siblings? Ah, the old White Stripes dilemma...
5) (Tryin' To) Read My Mind: All killer, no filler. Farfisa makes another frontline appearance. This album is all piledriver drums and timbre-y cymbal hits with a bunch of white noise guitar chording and chunky organ, with every line yelled anthemic style...woah, that guitar solo is nuts!!
6) Premonition: Hello, side two. Someone says "fucking ready" and then the drums count off and here we go. At three minutes, this is the longest song on the album. A not-quite-as-fast mid-tempo rocker. Farfisa powered chorus. You know how Guy Picciotto from Fugazi sounds when he's yelling out the choruses of their anthemic songs?? That's how this dude sounds all the time.
7) Desperate Situation: There's a galloping sense of rhythm to this song that reminds me of 'Nimrod's Son' by the Pixies. The lead singer doesn't yell so much as yell/sing this time, which is a nice change of pace. One thing I'll say for this band, you can't listen to this album lying down. It pretty much demands a vertical stance, if not full on rockin'.
8) I Don't Mind...: Are you allowed to fault a punk/garage rock album for simplistic lyrics? I kind of feel like it's faulting a jazz album for not having lyrics at all, you know?? If I stare at the album cover while this song is playing I swear I can see the cartoons moving around...
9) She Gets Heavy (Holds Too Tight): Another garage rock yelper. You've got to admire a song where most of the lyrics are contained in the title. At least the ones you can understand underneath the loud guitars and drums. Another flash-fire guitar solo.
10) I Want More: I'm going to make the obvious joke here...I do want more. I guess punk/garage rock albums are short by necessity because they don't stick around long enough to get boring. Still, the main reason I avoid 95% of punk/garage rock in the first place is that there isn't enough variety and it all sounds the same after awhile. There is a comfort to knowing that you can set your watch to the predictability of said albums that I fully understand, but I've never been the type of person who was content to listen to the same kind of music day in/day out.
All in all, a decent punk/garage rock record. Unless you're really into this genre you can probably skip this. You only need so many albums like this in your collection and trying to sift the wheat from the chaff is the job of better qualified specialists than I.