Peel (Carrot Top)

The Coctails

By Bob Bahr

After my first dose of the Coctails, I didn't feel a thing. By the third drink, er, listen, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Do you have time for a couple of times through Peel?

Peel may make you woozy, but it will be your ambition that deteriorates, rather than your liver. The Coctails are about kickin' back and enjoying a buzz. They exert just enough effort on musical technique to get by in today's DIY-blessed environment, and save the rest of their energy for kaleidoscope modulations and occasional bursts into energetic near-pop. Take the clear-eyed vision of Pavement's punk-pop and cross it with the numbing hardcore guitar plod of Codeine, and you're almost there. Factor in a denim-decked roots sound and a bit of Chicago brawn, and you're closer. Consider the Violent Femmes and you probably got it.

This reviewer now listens to the Coctails often, and sometimes still doesn't feel a thing. But it isn't from apathy anymore. It's from satisfaction. If Peel has the feeling of a light, transitional album, it bodes well for upcoming recordings. Their lounge shtick now safely shelved, the Coctails seem poised to make a unique musical stand.

A beguilingly light, bouncy lead track ("Miss Maple") doesn't seem like a good representation of the rest of Peel, until you consider the options. On one hand, there are the country-touched pieces such as "Cottonbelt" and "And You Could." Then again, there's the somber instrumentals like the title track and "Daylight." And there are the tracks that match up better with "Miss Maple," namely, "Postcard" and "Wicked Ways."

If there is a drawback to Peel, it may be that the moods covered here are too disparate to suit any time of your day (or your life).

That's what the track selection button is for. Put the Coctails on and use it.