Cooked Books - Endtimes Forever 12 (Jurassic Pop, 2014)
Following on the footsteps of their 2013 debut album which was delayed due to several insane circumstances out of the control of the band, Cooked Books’ Endtimes Forever is in shape to come in on time and due for release any time now from Jurassic Pop and I’m stoked to be able to bring you this review; while you’re at it make sure to check out my 2013 interview with the band (Interview here). Putting an exact label on what Cooked Books are doing isn’t an easy thing, they’re definitely psych, they’re definitely loud and they definitely kick ass, while bringing a decent dose of noise pop to the table as well, but I’m not going to get bogged down in trying to describe their sound too much. You can click the link below and experience Cooked Books’ music for yourself; it’ll be able to speak volumes more than I ever could. As far as Endtimes Forever as an album is concerned, it’s a tightly constructed journey through meticulously deconstructed psychedelic garage rock viewed through the pinhole of Indiana psychedelia. “Logic Stops” picks up almost exactly where The Reader left off. There’s a harder, harsher more refined sound to the music this time around, a sense of urgency that was much more understated on their first album, while retaining the killer loud-quiet dynamic that Cooked Books seems to have perfected at this point. The slightly more in-your-face sound of “Logic Stops” is definitely a much purer translation of what Cooked Books sounded like when I saw them live a while back taking the energy and volume up a notch or two. “Excommunicator” wastes no time in making a statement about the heavier sound of Endtimes Forever either, rocketing out of the gate and erupting into a volcano of sound and rattling drums from the start. The speed is starting to pick up along with the energy on “Excommunicator” and if you had doubled up the speed of some songs of The Reader it would almost have fit in, but there’s something lurking beneath the seemingly placid surface this time that amps things up and makes them really interesting. Slowing the pace for the first time, “Tap’d Phone” seeps a dissonant sense of paranoia and hysteria that builds through out the song. Coyly playful, it dances just outside of your grasp, an intoxicating specter of subversive energy gliding along the mist covered forest floor, yielding only to the unstoppable energy of “Stealing Song”. There’s a adventurous sense of exploration to Cooked Books’ music that I just can’t get enough of, and while I was really excited to hear that they had moved into a bit heavier and louder territory, I was worried that the childlike sense of wonderment they always seemed to radiate would disappear or dissipate. “Stealing Song” is hear to quell those fears though and prove the point that just because you take something in a new direction or try something different, you don’t have to loose any of the soul or heritage; if you’re willing to put the time and effort in that is. “Permanent Halloween” simply put, takes things to a new lever for the band in my opinion. It’s a blinding flash of light, a deafening crash of sound which strikes the listener like a bolt of lightning the first time you listen to Endtimes Forever and then caves in the back of your skull with an electric six-string pipe in the form of David Bower’s intense guitar work! Seamlessly blending the dreamy pop psych sounds that drifted from The Reader with an added Black Sabbath level of heavy intensity to the situation “Permanent Halloween” sounds like a force of nature at work or something; the howling of the wind in a tornado, the bending bows and snapping limbs of trees tossed like tinker toys across a battered landscape of scarred sound and scorched earth. From what I’ve heard this song is more of a movement towards the roots the band was founded around, but as I wasn’t around for that, this is like a monumental leap forward for Cooked Books to me. Now, they’re not only capable of summoning up some of the dreamiest pop psych that I know of, but they can crank the volume level through the roof, put the pedal to the metal and really get downright heavy; an impressive and heady trick to add to an already loaded arsenal of sonic martial arts. “It’s Enough” combines the lower, heavier, throbbing sounds that Cooked Books have discovered on Endtimes Forever with the playful energy that I fell in love with on The Reader nearly perfectly, bouncing around for two and a half minutes before giving way to the feedback and reverberated madness of “Cops On Film”. I don’t know how Cooked Books are capable of creating such vivid, self-realized worlds for songs that only last for a little under three minutes, but along with devastatingly effective arrangements and compositions, Cooked Books easily prove why they’re a step ahead of the competition with tracks like “Cops On Film”, genre bending trips into introspective storytelling intermingling with heady psychedelic noise and face-melting guitar. “Places To Live” doesn’t quite sound like anything that I’ve heard Cooked Books do before, it’s got a lot of the same elements going on, but there’s an added element of unpredictability and fluctuation taking place. Sweet plateaus of sound open up like pastures to allow the vocals and guitar to sprawl out and stumble throughout “Places To Live” while the rest of the band slightly subdue themselves, forming a Voltron like assemblage of instrumentation stronger than the Man Of Steel! Growing from these calm breaks into brash cries of harmonious dissonance before retreating again to the safety of the guitar and vox, “Places To Live” paves the way for the brilliance of “Relocations Assistance”. Finally slowing the tempo a bit again, “Relocations Assistance” might be slightly slower than some other songs on Endtimes Forever but it’s not lacking a bit of the punch or infectious melody! Slowly accumulating like a cloud about to burst, “Relocations Assistance” finally melts and fades into “Endtimes Forever at Costania House” the final track on the album. “Endtimes Forever at Costania House” reminds me of what would happen if someone took a bunch of acid and tried to record what they thought was a cover of “The Trial” from Cooked Books first album The Reader; an unhinged trip into the naive energy and manic chaotic noise that seems to define Cooked Books. If there’s a more apt way to end Endtimes Forever than I’m probably never going to come up with it, the screaming sonic howl of feedback looped and distorted again and again, fading and sputtering into the dark black abyss of space and noise. Cooked Books have not only managed to craft an incredible follow-up to their jaw-dropping debut album, but they’re also bringing something new to the table with definite growth and evolution taking place in the band over the past year and a half or so while they worked on honing and perfecting the music that would find it’s way onto Endtimes Forever. One of the most interesting and vividly unique psych bands out there right now, Cooked Books are offering up their best batch of tunes yet in the form of Endtimes Forever, easily earning it a spot next to any self-respecting psych fan or Indiana music freak’s music collection!
Listen while you read: https://soundcloud.com/jurassic-pop/cooked-books-excommunicator/s-79hnD
Review made by Roman Rathert/2015
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