My favorite release of the year by a local band is the debut 7-inch by Cocktails.
There are certain sounds that are near and dear to my heart, sounds that I will always like, now and forever, even when I’m 79 and need a robot to help me pee. Case in point: that wooly cross-section where punk and power-pop meet. Think of ’70s bands like The Beat, Milk n’ Cookies, and The Scruffs — groups that liked melody, were good it, but didn’t want to go fully pop, instead infusing that catchiness with fuzz, thump, and bile.
Here’s where Cocktails come in. The quartet calls their sound “slop-pop.” But when that guitar riff starts off “No Blondes (In California)”, it could be the Sex Pistols, Joan Jett, or a slowed down Ramones. Pop, yeah, but with fangs. Grit under the fingernails. Some low-end bourbon spiking the lemonade. Boom.
“Hey Winnie” is even better. So catchy, so epic — a pump your fist and pump the gas rocker that begs for an old Mustang and a wide-open stretch of road.
Lauren Matsui and Patrick Clos share the mic for “Willowbrook Lane,” making like Suzi Quatro and Fonzie, leather clad and cool, even when confounded by unrequited love. Hot.
The disc closes with “Tear It to Pieces,” which shoots the riff from Television’s “See No Evil” right into your cerebral cortex. Patrick is at his most Elvis Costello here, snarling, “I don’t want to see you/I hate it/I hate it” over cheerful handclaps, galloping drums, and sing-songy keyboards. That’s all you need to know about heartbreak, kids. It’s complicated.
Look for a Cocktails full-length (also out on Father/Daughter Records) in 2014. And catch them opening up for Mikal Cronin and the Cool Ghouls at a Rickshaw Stop 10th Anniversary show on January 8.
Dan Strachota is the Talent Buyer for Rickshaw Stop. He misses cheese.