On January 8, 2013 Los Angeles-based pop-rock band Thorcraft Cobra will release their first full-length disc Count It In on Plaza Bowl Records & Tapes. For those not in the know, Thorcraft Cobra, named after a discontinued Canadian amp, consists of Billy Zimmer (lead vocals, guitars and bass) and Tammy Glover (drums and background vocals). They are an interesting combination said to be "part Canadian cold (Zimmer) and California cool (Glover)".
The two met while working on earlier projects for the now defunct Permanent Press record label. They had always planned to work together but it didn’t really happen until Glover returned from touring with Spark. Their debut disc, the eponymous EP Thorcraft Cobra was released over two years ago and climbed to number 13 on “The Top 50 Artists” list on the alt-radio station KKBB.
On their new project, Count It In, they enlist the aid of an assortment of additional artists including: Will Love, Gigante and multi-instrumentalist Mahsa Zargaran of Sabrosa Purr. The album opens on their lead single “Count Me Out”. This one features strong pop guitar riffs. The accompanying music video was directed by Ross Novie (The Office, Arrested Development and Secret Girlfriend).
They slow things down a bit on “Another Day”. Not to be confused with the 1970 Paul McCartney tune or Rutles song, this is—like the bulk of the material here—a Thorcraft Cobra original. It features guest artist bassist Steve McDonald of Red Kross and sounds vaguely akin to classic Pink Floyd or even XTC.
One of the more obvious cuts to become a single is “Party Clock”. This fan favorite has been praised by critics and includes a guest appearance by The Sparks’ vocalist Russell Mael. This works well as a dance ditty too.
The next number is “True Love” which further demonstrates the tuneful twosome’s true talents. It is quickly contrasted by “Dark Willows, Bright Flowers”. It’s a slow song roughly reminiscent of Queensrÿche’s quieter musical moments.
The exploratory anthem “Black Swan (It's All Inside of You)” quietly follows here. It works quite well especially considering it follows the prior piece. The seventh selection, “Bemused, Bored and Deranged”, is highlighted by initially slightly rawer, less produced vocals and some trippy guitar work.
“Obsession” is a modern rocker which remains true to the twosome’s trademark although it still somehow stands apart from the others perhaps due in part to a change in rhythm and the chosen guitar riffs. More melodious music follows with “Oh Melody!” Once one listens to the track the most obvious question is just who is Melody and what did she do to get her own song?
The act slows things down a bit with an unapologetic number named “I'm Not Sorry”. This seems to be focused on a really wild night involving various vices and vixen. Yeah, the trouble with trouble is it generally starts out as fun. Still, sometimes we all deserve to have a crazy moment and not be judged and not have to apologize for it.
Another example of the group’s capabilities is “Forget the Photograph”. This one sounds a wee bit different perhaps because it was a collaboration between Thorcraft Cobra and another pair of writers Jochelson and Dattner. The brief psychedelic pop interlude, “I'm Putting Your Toys Away”, is mainly a musical mantra that precedes the noteworthy number “You'll Get Nothing" which was co-written with Love.
The closing cut, “Party Clock [Radio Edit]”, which, like many of the other cuts, is written in a classic rock style and yet retains distinctive elements of their own. What is interesting about this track is that the duo seems to be the kind of indie act that would object to radio stations in general since they tend to favor major labels. Yet here we find a track especially pared for airplay complete with sing-along lyrics that work well on commercial radio despite the fact that the performing pair has a college radio feel to them.
Indeed, this is an album that is in some way retro. Their musical influences surely must include acts such as The Beatles, Elliott Smith, Stevie Wonder and Radiohead and yet it’s subtle thus allowing them to retain a great degree of originality and vitality. This is perhaps their intention. One thing is certain, however, Thorcraft Cobra is working hard to make their music your “Obsession”.
My name is Phoenix and . . . that's the bottom line.