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Music Consumption: The Coctails
05/23/2001 The Coctails: Peel

This is a totally unassuming little gem of an album, with great melodies, spirited playing, and a distinct lack of self-importance. It's a beaut. I picked it up knowing some of their jazzier stuff, and was quite unprepared for this nearly-perfect indie charmer.

Where to begin? Barry Phipps's "Miss Maple" starts the disc off, a driving, poppy summer tune of the first order. The title track is next, an instrumental that builds gradually to a satisfyingly hard-strummed peak. After a brief pause for Archer Prewitt's slow, quiet "Wicked Ways" and a tune I'm not remembering at the moment, it's back to love-pop ecstasy with Phipps's "Postcard," a perfect song for the lovers--perfect, I tell you. Innocent, knowing, edging toward irony but deeply sincere, in a universe with any justice, this would be a monster hit.

Other high points of the disc include Phipps's intensely catchy "Weather King," one of the most surreal singalong tunes I can thing of. There's also a rare peppy Prewitt tune, "2000" (another catchy one), and John Upturch's "Moment of the Day," a driving song of uptempo wistful melancholy.

In addition to the fine guitar tones (low-power amp overdrive, sounds like), we're also treated to marimba, upright bass, harmonica, and musical saw, all exquisitely recorded by the great Robert Weston IV.

Archer Prewitt is perhaps the only member still musically active in a big way, but I really wish we heard more from Barry Phipps--for me, his songs are the standouts on this disc. Well worth picking up.