Cosmos CD reviewed by Luc Rodgers
Jun 8, 2009, 04:17
COSMOS Jar of Jam Ton of Bricks CD
For the latest installment of Robert Pollard's seemingly bottomless well of ideas comes Cosmos, a pairing of Pollard and fellow underground staple Richard Davies (ex- Moles, Cardinal and not the short-term keyboardist for Hawkwind). Pollard's prolific tendencies by some is considered pompous and questionable but the fact remains that on each of his records there are always at least two verifiable gems. The fillers may become tiresome (unfinished ideas, verses that go nowhere, etc.) but there is still a magic and brilliance underlying everything the man pens. Davies, on the other hand, seems to only pop up every now and again, which, compared to Pollard, may seem “lazy” but actually is merely “normal” for a solo project. Together these guys have the power and know-how to come out with something truly singular and powerful and, as is expected, Jar of Jamâ€¦ is this and so many other things, both positive and negative.
Pollard is responsible for the vocals on eight of the twelve cuts and it is these that stand out. After the pointless intro comes a familiar sound: Pollard alone with an acoustic guitar and free-associating words into something eventually becoming “Don't Be A Shy Nurse.” As it drunkenly lurches in the basement, anyone familiar with anything Pollard will be pleased with the melodies and front-porch-esque relaxation of the song. “Nude Metropolis” brings in more instrumentation as the simplicity remains to keep it a low-key and uncomplicated listen. As the chorus rings in with “We are living/in a nude metropolis/dum-dum-dum,” one can surely picture it louder, ballsier, and live with fists thrown in the air. Pollard's penchant for gang choruses is astounding, as he well knows. To call it exploitation would be ridiculous; it is just what he does and what he's good at and besides, who doesn't like a sing-a-long?
Davies's “You Had To Be There” falls a little short in direction and reason. Unfortunately, the term “noodling” comes to mind while listening â€“ almost as if Davies himself is sitting next to you and playing this while the two of you decide what to do with the rest of the evening. Hopefully the decision is to go see Davies perform the next tune, “Grapes Of Wrath,” in all its mid-90's “alternative college rock” glory. “I'll keep it real/I'll keep it mean,” clearly spells out intention and it is because of this that the short, pleasurable song just cannot be fucked with.
Continuing through the record, the potential for sure showstoppers continues to fall short for those looking for big, electric jams to hoist a beer to. It is only after trekking through the campfire-ready “Sudden Storms Are Normal” and “Zepplin Commander” that one realizes that the stripped-down atmosphere and gentle heartbeat of the entire record is not made for such drunken nights but rather the mornings after. This is Robert and Richard sitting in your living room before heading for the next town, thankful for your invitation to crash in your out-of-town roommates room, plucking and swaying with coffee breath and breakfast-full bellies. Jar of Jamâ€¦ exudes friendship and contentment, open homes and hugs at reunions. Through “Just By A Button,” “Early Chill Early Crow,” and “Hail Mary” the camaraderie and like-mindedness is evident to all surrounding.
What is a new friendship between Pollard/Davies and the listener is precisely the purpose of this project—to bring anyone interested inside their minds and enjoy the simple life as they see it. For those that don't get it or can't accept the lack of big pop choruses can simply go their own way with an armful of leftovers and a phone number to call if they change their minds. [Happy Jack Rock Records]