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Cobra Verde - Haven’t Slept All Year

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Artist: Cobra Verde

Album: Haven’t Slept All Year

Label: Scat

Review date: Dec. 5, 2008

Ostensibly nothing more than a solid mid-western rock band from the indie underground, Cobra Verde has always been about much more than the sum of its deceptively simple parts. Rising from the ashes of Cleveland’s Death of Samantha in the early 1990s, Cobra Verde puts an arty, glam-tinged spin on bad-ass bar rock. And quite frankly, no one does it better.

The group’s latest, Haven’t Slept All Year, works as an interesting companion piece to its previous release, 2005’s Copycat Killers. The latter album is a strangely brilliant collection of covers that runs the gamut from the Easter Monkeys’ “Underpants” to a deliciously menacing recasting of Pink’s dance-pop anthem “Get This Party Started.” Haven’t Slept All Year is all new original material, yet it exhibits the same willingness to tackle any genre with both a dead-on stare and an arched eyebrow that made Copycat Killers so much twisted fun.

Establishing the album’s carefree romanticism is the opener "Riot in the Food Court, " which features a gargantuan hook for a chorus and plays like a lost track from the soundtrack to Fast Times at Ridgemont High. This may seem like an unlikely pose for a bunch of middle-aged rust belters to strike, yet not only does it works, it’s quite contagious. Frontman John Petkovic croons like he’s getting ready for the prom on the synth-poppy “Something About the Bedroom” and contemplates being stuck “between a boy and a man” on “Freeride,” evoking a genuine sweetness that should play well with any post-OC fans the band may have made.

Cobra Verde have always been stylistically restless and unpredictable, but never to such a degree over the course of a single album. While this is a rock album first and foremost (see “World Can’t Have Her”), there are touches of country (the aforementioned “Freeride”), debauched beat cabaret (“Wasted Again”), synth anthems (“Run Away”) and subtly swingin’ acoustic numbers (“Together Alone”).

The only thing more surprising than Cobra Verde’s existence this far into the new millennium is the quality of its recordings. Fifteen years since Viva La Muerte, their debut on Scat Records, Petkovic and Co. continue to rock hard in the face of the impending cultural apocalypse. With that in mind, Haven’t Slept All Year is an ideal soundtrack for the current trash heap that is our society. Cobra Verde cast their net wide and work with whatever comes slithering back, compressing it all into a weighty chunk of glittering pop-rock smite to be hurdled at whoever needs a knock on the head.

By Nate Knaebel

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