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Album Review: Sweet Spirit. Cokomo


On a whole Cokomo, (Out 10/16), by Sweet Spirit, a nine piece band out of Austin, is like scattered puzzle pieces. Each track on the LP plays a different part on the album. On their own they dabble into the folk, alternative, and retro (both 80s, 90s, and 60s) genres. Song after song one can see the spectacular nature of each track on its own. Together, it somehow comes together to form a magnificent album, even if it is not the most cohesive.

On the folk side, think Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, “Poor” sees vocalists Sabrina Ellis and Andrew Casher singing simultaneously behind a menagerie of horns and guitar about how everyday they go to work to pay their rent but they know “The point of living isn’t just to stay alive.” It is extremely relatable, and with the two lead singers helming the tune as master storytellers, “Poor” soars. Much like The Beatles did on Abbey Road “Poor” ends and then seamlessly transitions into “Chained & Tied” as if you are listening to one song. This particular track has a much more amped up feeling to it, with frantic guitars and epic drawn out vocals. The breakdown in the middle comes out of left field and is a brazen and brash wall of sound that works in this fast paced track. “Break Your Bones” is a superior folk ballad, with Ellis at the front and center, crooning about the sweetest love she’s ever known. But the added twist is that the man she loves has some issues that may lead to police action. “If you land your ass in jail I’m gonna break your bones,” Ellis sings, taking on the role as a woman who will not be scorned, and even though she loves the man in question she makes it clear that she is not going to stand by and be taken down by him. And with Ellis and Casher harmonizing together on the chorus “Break Your Bones” becomes one of the strongest tracks on the entire album.

There’s a definitely 80s pop vibe on Cokomo that comes out in full swing on “If You Wanna.” It begins with staccato electric guitar that gears one up for the song. It continues throughout the track as Ellis’ vocals are reminiscent of Cindi Lauper at her peak. “If you wanna we could have a place in Mexico/smoke Marijuana never tell a single soul where we go,” Ellis coyly suggests to her partner in crime. It’s fun, and mischievous, and while it sounds retro it’s the type of song that also feels entirely fresh and modern.

“Right Hand,” found later on the album, is a mixture of the mid to late 90s as well as 2015 female alternative scene. “The people need a hero so I tell them that I was wounded in the war,” Ellis growls in a strong Gwen Stefani/Hayley Williams way. But Ellis makes it her own, and it comes across as a tune that could have been a hit in many different decades. This blurring of eras makes most tracks on this album fun and fresh to listen to and is one of the largest assets of Cokomo.

Perhaps the biggest strength the LP has going for it is its throwback elements, and while Sweet Spirit dabble in the 80s and 90s, it is their foray into doo wop and the 60s that really sets Cokomo apart from other albums. “Someone Like You” is an immediate toe tapper with Ellis and Casher bringing their soulful hearts and voices out in the open. With an infectious melody, horns blaring, and a break down that is guaranteed to give one goosebumps, it reminds one of the days doo wop groups stood on the corner of streets belting out their emotions. “Rebel Rebel” sends Ellis in full Ronnie Spector mode as she sings “You’ve got the kind of nerve to get what you deserve cause you’re a rebel.” The soulfulness in her voice only helps to bring out the 60s girl group vibe. Halfway through the track Casher appears and puts a modern twist on the song as he cuts in, explaining the rebel’s side: “You know sometimes you get so high you want to make somebody low.” It’s a bold use of storytelling and is a game changer on Cokomo. However the clear standout tune on the album is “My Poor Stupid Heart.” With a steady rain sound effect in the background and pitch perfect harmonies ,along with an acoustic guitar, the track comes off as an all female Everly Brothers song. Like a soothing lullaby, its simplistic nature lends to magic of the tune.

Though the album takes many different twists and turns, and doesn’t seem to have a clear direction, it is still one of the best albums of 2015. Appreciate each song for what it is, taking in its full effect and let Sweet Spirit take you on one incredible journey.



About Rachel Freitas

retro music enthusiast. Dreamer. Kind of odd. Writer

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