Review : Cobra Skulls - Agitations
PopmattersReno, Nevada’s Cobra Skulls are undeniably a punk band — they play hard, fast, guitar-driven outbursts of fury masquerading as songs, few of which last longer than three minutes. But the band knows too that to make any kind of memorable mark on the music scene, something more is necessary: tunes.
As in, melodies, and maybe a few hollered harmony lines if you’re feeling adventurous. Cobra Skulls incorporate both, along with radical innovations such as tempo shifts and lyrics that amount to more than free-floating adolescent aggro. Album opener “Six Degrees” is a catchy, fast number that might be targeting global warming — “Six degrees will bring us to our knees” — but then again, it might be about something else altogether.
“Iron Lung” follows, with a few memorable lines of its own: “So many ways to break a man, and make woman forget / Life we know is but a dream — but they don’t have my dream yet”. Okay, so it’s not Tolstoy, or even Neil Young, but it’s clever and pithy. Singer Devin Peralta specializes in such lines, delivered with a raspy eartnestness reminiscent of Joe Strummer, and yes, I know exactly what a compliment that is.
“The Mess” begins to show the band’s range, utilizing a slow opening and a stuttering rhythm in the chorus. Sad to say, few punk bands bother to try different sections in their songs, but this album is filled with multi-part tunes, even though most, like this one, barely top two minutes. That said, if you’re a six-string freak looking for guitar solos, you’d best look elsewhere. “All Drive” comes midway through the record and is probably the best song here, which is to say it’s pretty damn good. Peralta’s spitfire vocal delivery layers over an urgent bed of guitars and percussion and, again, a melody line and chord progression that worms its way into the listener’s ear and snuggles up a while. This is followed by “Drones”, which is nearly as good, though it throws a curveball with its lounge-act intro and break halfway through. Don’t like it? Hey, it’s only 82 seconds....full text
AbsolutepunkSomewhere tangled in between the bramble and tumbleweed are the fist pumping shenanigans of Reno-bred Cobra Skulls. Their political canvas American Rubicon rhythm trotted, kicked dust particles haphazardly in the eye, and murmured Southern twangs under the blazing heat of a Nevada sun. But it littered itself with question marks, parching my throat for slightly more cohesive writing structures. And though bass wielding frontman Devin Peralta belted out the American banner in all of its red, white, and ashen glory, the rubicon of satiable hooks erected its camp in no man's land.
Yet through the cracks surfaced a mighty pedestal of an effort, that toppled Eisenhower's statue to the ground in duct taped shoe strings and hard-assed veneer. Agitations, the band's full-length Fat Wreck Chords debut, is just six degrees away from bringing us to our knees. Or so goes my DIY paraphrasing of the fiery but bouncy chorus of "Six Degrees"; it's that free spirited wildcat which craftily adds grain and texture to every punk melodrama, baring the teeth of the band's familiar Western smile for leapfrogging vocals.
The double-sided life of Agitations sneaks around, out and about. Peralta's vocal allure is a timbre two-step that pays tribute to the peppered lungs of Tom Gabel (Against Me!), but then flips into tempered vibratos. "The Mockery" peeks out temporarily to reveal its meek side, but suddenly gets hijacked by an old school punk diddy about a man out for hierarchical blood: "he drives by his old company/in an armored SUV/and he notes how they'd think/he's making a mockery", reassures ally Peralta.
"Drones" calls all hepcats, amidst plush tempos, jazzy chords, and kool kat whispers, adorning a cocked beret and a turtleneck. It's an intro curveball, but Cobra Skulls' master plan is simple: ease the listener into a state of leisure and ecstasy. Next, sketch a stockpile amount of "fuck you" diagrams to target every cutthroat industry and leave them at the listener's doorstep for dispersal. The package will be signed: "don't be a drone, be the hive." But of course, power can't just be handed to you. You have to follow through and fight the powers that be.
Between Peralta's gospel grooves that pop to the beat in "The Minimum", and the electrifying guitar lead in "Solastalgia" that strikes a similarity to Alkaline Trio's "Dethbed" intro but in higher key, lawless head banging would be a fitting response to the three piece's edgy takeover. Only acoustic closer, "Believe", will pick up the debris left over from 12 tracks of anarchy and then chuck it against the wind. Perhaps a mindless maneuver, but Cobra Skulls are "not trying to make you understand. [They're] just enjoying this while [they] can."...full text
BigwheelmagazineIn a perfect world, this review would be two phrases: Cobra Skulls. New Album. And that would be all that needed to be said. But this is far from a perfect world, and so there are probably some of you who, despite the recent deal with Fat Wreck Chords, the tour with NOFX, the involvement with the Bad Religion tribute album, and the nearly non-stop touring need some extra encouragement.
Reno, Nevada's Cobra Skulls are set to release their third full-length album Sept 27 (but if you're impatient, or just like to try before you buy, you can stream it for free right now at http://www.absolutepunk.net/artists/showlink.php?do=showdetails&l=46382). Following close on the heels of "Bringing the War Home", a 7-song EP released at the beginning of this year, "Agitations" is another strong entry in the Cobra Skulls' catalog.
The album is more focused than the band's sophomore effort, "American Rubicon", which had an eclectic blend of styles running the gamut from ska to pop punk and back again, with bits from hardcore, and nearly everything else shoved in the back pockets. "Agitations" feels like the band has found a solid voice, though it's no less eclectic over all, with classic rock, punk, blues, and even a little country flavor blending together to create the Cobra Skulls sound.
Cobra Skulls' lyrical edge hasn't dulled either, despite the high output. The album re-visits familiar topics, like the plight of the American working class, and our servicemen, but clever lyrical construction, and relentlessly energetic music keeps these topics interesting. Lines like "we're all too big to fail, so can we bail out everyone?" and "they've gotta find new ways to make living a crime" are begging to be shouted full volume, fists in the air.
If you're lucky, you can catch them on their current tour dates here: http://www.facebook.com/cobraskulls?sk=info, and if you're not, treat yourself to the new album and practice up for next time....full text
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