Clay Pit Road the new album from Florida band Cosmic Punch, is like a variety box of cookies or chocolates, full of multiple flavours all igniting the taste buds. It is a release which courts sounds from various decades and genres to spawn something which is thrilling and quite irresistible. All of the nine songs upon the album bring honest and openly recognisable sounds but revitalised into an engagement which just brings a big grin to the face and heart.
Cosmic Punch consists of Ryan Michalski (lead vocals/backing vocals) and Juan Gonzalez (lead vocals/backing vocals/music/producer). The first of the pair is known for his musical projects (Space King, Dead Dark Slide) whilst “Punchy” Gonzalez is best known as a producer, notably of death metal records including releases from Morbid Angel, Diabolic, and Lover of Sin. The pair came together initially in 2005 to create a project which brought different ages and styles of rock music into one compelling entity and as the album shows have come up with something quite irresistible. The music is a mix of the sixties, seventies, and eighties with a modern vision and breath to the results. At any point on the album you can encounter alternative rock, power pop, pop punk, and hard rock in distinct presences and that is simplifying things. There are many additives and musical references to eras and bands on the album which are perpetually shifting and continually mesmeric. The bio states to ‘think of Monkees meets Beatles meets Boston meets Queen meets Beach Boys meets E.L.O.’ to give you the feel of the sound, it is a fair declaration though misses out on plenty of other juicy spices which captivate the ear.
Opening track One Man Pop Band provides all the persuasion needed to know the album is going to be a real treat, its convincing power pop energy and melodic enterprise immediately contagious and thrilling. It plays like a mix of Herman’s Hermits, early Green Day, and Weezer bringing feet, heart, and voice in an unashamed union with its sonic rapture. It is a great start immediately left in the shade by the fiery entrance of How May I. With electro teasing and flames of tight sonic guitar the track soon has a magnetic hold, its punk essences reminding of The Dickies and sizzling melodic hooks of the Buzzcocks, and everything employed just aural manna. The electro swagger behind the feisty charge of the song and the vocal harmonics also lure thoughts forward, those of The Beatles, Jimmy Eat World, and The Dandy Warhols. It is the best track on the release and one of the most enjoyable songs anywhere to be unveiled this year.
The irrepressible variety continues with the smouldering Beatles, E.L.O, XTC mellow textures of You’re Great and the hard rock cored Join the Party. Both tracks fall short of the first two but still build their own unique piece of lingering pleasure inside with their imaginative and warm refreshing expanses. The second of the pair would not feel out of place within a Cheap Trick or Aerosmith set if given a slightly harder spine and both easily leave one with a heightened eagerness for what is to come.
The Long Slow Road and The First Time keep the baton flying high, the first with golden pop kisses within blustery sonics whilst the second breaks out tenderly caresses harmonies and provocative keys within a swiftly strolling urgency. It is a new wave wash of warm and energising majesty which soon recruits the passions and voice to its pulsating presence.
Another giant highlight comes with International Nerd Holiday, a track with all the fun and melodic mastery of The Monkees and the confident swagger of bands like Purple Hearts. It is a glorious celebratory riot of pop rock through the ages and seriously rivals the first two tracks as top tease.
The release is completed by the E.L.O./House Of Love wrapped Walk Away and the rock/punk feast of heat that is Bring You Down, a track which is like The Super Happy Fun Club meets Huey Lewis and the News in a party held by Jane’s Addiction. It is a brilliant end to a terrific album, a release all pop fans from any direction should embrace with at least an investigation. Cosmic Punch is a pleasure which brings nostalgia and new imagination into a whole new satisfying realm.
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