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Play Drums + Bass

4 Stars

Here's to truth in advertising. On the Olympia-based band's latest album, Play Drums + Bass, C.O.C.O do exactly what the title suggests. With Chris Sutton and Olivia Ness on -- that's right -- drums and bass, the album is stripped-down garage rock: Single-voiced vocals over jangly rhythmic beats. The idea isn't new -- think of the White Stripes' self-titled debut, with just guitar, vocals, and drums -- but C.O.C.O's simplicity succeeds.

Unlike the White Stripes, where Jack White uses complex guitar pedals to create the effect of more musicians and a larger sound, C.O.C.O keeps it clean. On the few tracks when Sutton sings, like "Much To Learn," he channels Pavement's Steven Malkmus around the Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain era, while on songs like "For You" the throaty Ness sounds like the Gossip's Beth Ditto around the time of That's Not What I Heard.

The songs are raw and unpretentious, demonstrating that honesty is the best musical policy.



Mark Knopfler

Kill to Get Crimson

3 Stars

I finally get Mark Knopfler's uneven solo career. Ever since splitting from Dire Straits, the legendary guitarist/songwriter seems to release a commercial record followed by one that seems more like the soundtrack to a sleepy afternoon on the hammock. The classic Golden Heart and even last year's team-up with Emmylou Harris, All the Roadrunning, fit in the former category, while oddballs like The Ragpicker's Dream and now Kill to Get Crimson are of the latter.

This is solid material with Knopfler's signature sound. But it's not the CD I'll be reaching for when I need a Knopfler fix. Always a funny writer, this time he's taken his love of the obscure title to a ridiculous extreme -- "The Scaffolder's Wife" and "The Fizzy and the Still." Huh?!

But his country tendencies shine through on "True Love Will Never Fade," and he returns to epic form on the final cut, "In the Sky," which makes that hammock seem pretty inviting after all.


DOWNLOAD: "True Love Will Never Fade"

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