Indie band Cocktails’ latest album ‘Catastrophic Entertainment’ is a true testament to the enduring power of a well-written pop song.
Cocktails are a San Francisco-based indie power-pop outfit band. As they tell it, their music is “pop music for nice people.” Echoing the pop-rock sounds of bands like The Who, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and, as Under The Radar puts it, “molded in the image of bands like The Rubinoos, The Records, and Shoes,” Cocktails are returning with a solid pop record that is filled with captivating melodies and riffs paired with all-too-relatable thematic elements. And on this record, the band wastes no time in cutting right to what they do best: catchy hooks, starting with the sun-drenched opener ‘Bun E. Carlos’.
Named for the drummer of Cheap Tricks, this song has that perfect summertime feel-good vibe and it really sets the tone for much of the record. Main singer and songwriter Patrick Clos states of the track, “It’s almost like a fantasy we all (or at least Cocktails) long for right now (especially given the current pandemic times): traveling the world, playing music, finding love, drinks with friends, beating the shit out of a drum set. Simpler times.” Catchy Moog leads are running directly into catchy guitar leads with plenty of call-response vocals and boy/girl harmonies throughout. During the bridge we hear Clos sing: “We’ll leave our problems back in the U.S.A – It’s all f#*ked anyway…” A bleak sentiment that also hints at an escape or some bit of hope. As to where that escape may be, we’re not quite sure, but for now, the melodies embedded in this track will carry us through.
‘Catastrophic Entertainment’ is full of fuzzed-out melodies, catchy choruses, sticky guitar riffs, and pop-rock heaters. Produced and mixed by the band, the album relies heavily on what Cocktails does best: bluntly bashing out well-crafted pop songs. When Clos teams up with lead guitarist Joel Cusumano (Sob Stories), synth/vocalist Lauren Matsui (Seablite), bassist Rob Goodson (Re-Volts), and drummer Phil Lantz (Neutrals), it just hits a little different: the result has a certain kinetic nervous energy – an audible adrenaline rush.
Clos describes the new record as “a raw and dirty monster of a pop record.” And he’s not alone in that sentiment: PopMatters shared their music was “a reminder that the well-crafted pop song refuses to die,” Austin Town Hall stated ‘Bun E. Carlos’ was a “swaggering pop-rock anthem, perfect for you to enjoy all those daydreams staring out your window wishing you were having fun down at the beach with your mates,” RPM Online stated, “Cocktails got sunshine in abundance. Power Pop goodness…”, The Bay Bridged called the record a “damn fine pile of hooks,” and Spin referred to it as a “…mix radiant power-pop enthusiasm and crisp West Coast textures.”
Speaking about the record Clos shares, “We’re a scrappy power pop band at heart, but we’ve never quite fit in nicely…a little too poppy for a punk thing, and then we’re always rocking too hard to be an indie-pop band. For ‘Catastrophic Entertainment’, we just wanted to lean into that as much as possible and be ourselves, just trying to let new ideas happen.” And that, as it turns out, was the best decision the band could have made because this is a perfectly-crafted pop record that is as powerfully unique as it is catchy and easy to listen to.
The band flexes its versatility on tracks like the twangy pub-rocker ‘Washoe County’ and the Moog heavy stoner-jam ‘Buried Alive’, while on tracks like ‘Love Is Gone’, a ‘falling out of love with the city’ break-up song, Lauren Matsui gets to absolutely crush the lead vocal performance. Cusumano contributes the punchy glam-rock stomper in ‘Janeland’. Aside from their own album, Cocktails also recently contributed a cover of Fountains of Wayne’s ‘Sink To The Bottom’ to Adam Schlesinger’s tribute album ‘Saving for a Custom Van.’ The band appears alongside other artists like Nada Surf, Apex Manor, Jeff Rosenstock, Motion City Soundtrack, Rachel Bloom, Charly Bliss, Kay Hanley, Ted Leo, and many more, with all of the proceeds from the compilation going to MusiCares’ COVID-19 Relief Fund.
Once the ‘new kids on the block’ at the power pop game, Cocktails are making it abundantly clear with their latest releases that they’re ready to take their sound to a whole new level. The common thread between the eleven songs on ‘Catastrophic Entertainment’ is that they play out like a choose-your-own-adventure experience with each track reflecting the band’s growing pop craftsmanship and a total lack of pretension.
‘Catastrophic Entertainment’ by Cocktails released on July 1 and is available via cocktails.bandcamp.com and wizardsandpotions.com. Stream the record via Spotify and Apple Music. Follow Cocktails on Facebook and Twitter for more.