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CoCoComa - Things Are Not All Right

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Artist: CoCoComa

Album: Things Are Not All Right

Label: Goner

Review date: Oct. 22, 2009

A word of free advice: Any bands out there considering making a record that lands anywhere along the fairly lengthy (yet somehow narrow) gamut of garage/ punk/power pop/rock, do it this way. On their sophomore full-length for Goner Records, Chicago quartet CoCoComa offer what is essentially a blueprint for how to create a loud, melodic, built-to-last punk record. Virtually clunker free (although there are songs that pop slightly louder than others), Things Are Not All Right bursts with simple, well-crafted tunes that walk a fine edge between sweet and sour; garage and glam; gritty and glossy. They’re delivered with an urgency and directness that practically dares other bands to come up with something so impossibly simple and dead on.

With surface nods to the sugary buzzsaw action of the Ramones and Buzzcocks, and maybe a few hints of early Elvis Costello (particularly when the organ cuts through), CoCoComa is nothing if not accessible. Yet the craft inherent in songs such as “Enemies,” “Lie to Me,” and “It’s Too Hard” is proof that these guys listen to a lot more than just the canon. When they’re at their best, CoCoComa hit that elusive alchemy that blurs the lines of teen angst past: Leather jackets, skinny ties, Pez dispensers, a Nikki and the Corvettes 45, and a Misfits t-shirt all get tossed in to the wood chipper, and out comes Things Are Not All Right. It’s a mood crystallized in blazing guitar rips, organ licks, basic dum-dum drum beats, and anthemic shouts.

The members of CoCoComa are more than a few years beyond their teenage kicks. In fact, founding couple Lisa (guitar and vocals) and Bill Roe (drums and vocals) are married with a child. Yet, that slight leg up in the race of time just might make all the difference here. On Things Are Not All Right, the emotional resonance, the mood, is the byproduct of the songs, not the other way around – a minor point, but one that makes all the difference.

Any youngster with access to a few T-Rex records, a Bloodstains comp, and enough energy and time on their hands can successfully channel their bad attitude into a handful of catchy tunes worth dropping a few bucks for. But with CoCoComa, you get the idea that this kind of music is all that matters to them, and they’re not going to treat it as a disposable entity.

It’s a crowded pool, this whole garage punk thing. That’s what makes it so refreshing to hear a record like Things Are Not All Right. It is first and foremost an excellent rock album that just happens to fall under said genre.

By Nate Knaebel

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