Artist – Cotter
Album / Label – On Sunset / Unsigned
Rating – 7/10
The last few weeks have been the longest year… ever.
Things looked bad, then for a brief moment they looked alright, and then they looked bad again, and it has all been just exhausting. Sometimes you need to stop checking the news for about twenty minutes and just have a little fun. So, allow me to offer you a respite from doom scrolling through your Twitter feed with Columbus’ own Cotter.
Gang, I have to tell you that Pop Punk’s not dead! I though it was, and I will admit I haven’t listened to it in years, but with their debut EP On Sunset, Cotter has reminded me how great it is to hear up-beat, three minute songs about love and breakups and life.
The EP starts off with Chicago Handshake, which is a pretty by-the-numbers Pop Punk song, and sometimes that all you need. There was something so fun about the bouncing guitars, semi-angsty lyrics, and an incredibly singable chorus. It all felt familiar, but not so much that it felt generic. On the bridge, lead singer, Howard Mesharer throws a little bit of grit behind their voice and it’s a sound I wish they had played with a little more. But overall, it’s a fun song and a fun start to the extended play.
The second song and second single from the EP, Clumsy, feels like a song I would have listened to in my car in high school going on, like… a second date with a girl. Hell, they even namecheck ADTR’s biggest ballad, the song that I thought was the greatest song ever written in 2011. I can’t help but get a big grin on my face while I listen to this. There is a euphoria to the song that is infectious, with an earnestness that makes you want to dance, or at least move and nod your head a little bit.
Y’all, Cigarettes & Razorblades has everything. It’s got a voicemail intro, it’s got gang vocals, it’s even got unclean vocals for a second. This song sounds how 7 p.m. at the Warped Tour feels. The lyrics are raw, the story is real, and the message is perfect for the moment we are all in: You’re going to get through this, and you’re going to come out okay on the other side. As probably the “heaviest” song, it is the absolute standout on the EP.
Also, this song has a key change! God, I love a good key change. Everyone, please start putting key changes in your songs again. It’s like an instant shot of energy right in my vein every time I hear one in the wild.
Blackout! does perfectly what a lot of great punk and pop punk songs do so well. It takes a very serious, often melancholy subject, they turn it up to 130 BPM (I have no idea if that beats per minute number is accurate, I’m sorry) and it becomes a song you can mindlessly dance to. On your first listen, it’s a party song. The choruses are punctuated by “BLACKOUT” and it makes you want to get up and dance and drink and just party. Then, once you pay a little more attention to the lyric, you realize it’s a song about addiction; it’s an anti-party song.
Slowing things way down for the last song, Mind Your Head splits vocal duty between Mesharer and guitarist Zach Lukkarila. It’s a well-placed come down from the hard hitting middle of the EP, with relaxing vocals and gentler instruments. It does have the obligatory heavier bridge that is a staple in pop punk ballads, and it drives home the point that Cotter may be using the same structure that many bands before them have used, but they aren’t just copy-and-pasting a Pop Punk album. There is real emotion behind the songs, and there is a uniqueness to the sound that was lacking in the genre for a while.
This album has reminded me how much I love good Pop Punk. As soon as I finished this EP for the first time, I immediately turned on All Time Low’s Nothing Personal and was transported back to 2009. I cannot remember an album from the last few months, at least, that has made me feel this good.
Not all of the songs are happy, and not all of the songs are up-beat, but the vibe of the whole album is just a feeling of positivity. And doesn’t everyone need a little positivity right now?
So, throw on a Fall Out Boy t-shirt, grab your huge Skullcandy headphones, and listen to some solid Pop Punk for a little bit. The news will still be there when you get back.
1. Chicago Handshake
3. Cigarettes & Razorblades
5. Mind Your Head
Cotter – Cigarettes & Razorblades