Album Review

Cousins – “Halls of Wickwire, The” – [Ba Da Bing]

Naysayer   6/18/2014   A Library, CD

This “job” of reviewing music never ceases to surprise and amaze me. I’d think I would get jaded with all the stuff I hear, but not so. Cousins release, “The Halls of Wickwire”, distributed by Ba Da Bing and Hand Drawn Dracula, continue on this journey of surprise and enjoyment. Cousins hail from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Cousins are now a duo, being Leigh Dotey on drums and vocals and Aaron Mangle on guitars and vocals. Cousins are best friends, not cousins. And yes, Cousins are a male/female duo but don’t get sucked into the “oh no, not another one” trap. These two are tight, fuzzy garage rockers that know how to kick it out with all the power one would hope for. Some review I read about them said it was difficult on paper to get down the greatness of their sound. Words could not quite capture it. I am having the same problem, but let’s have a go at it.
First, the songs were written when Mangle’s grandmother was succumbing to dementia. Some of the songs are interpretations of the grandmother describing the world around her as it changes for her. This sets the serious tone of the album. But it is not, I repeat NOT, gimmicky. And the lyrics are more universal as good words should be.
Next, the instrumentation is fuzzy, lo-fi, not overly trashy, but gritty, especially the guitar. Dotey’s drumming is strong, pounding out the beat in a manner that gets to the core of the song. You will be bopping your head up and down. The melodies are catchy with good riffs. They stick in your head and after a listen you’ll be singing along. There is a variation in the songs, some slow, some faster, but all with a serious understanding of rock. The references, whether intentional or not, are classic: Roy Orbison guitar picking, Pixies like driving and building intensity, Link Wray psycho surf riffs, Cramps drumming rawness, even old timey piano on “Ocean” with flashes of Supergrass. Yet it all comes out sounding like their own.
A big two thumbs up and a jump up and down. Play it.

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