(818) (Drive Thru Records)
By: Alex Steininger
Hailing from California, Cousin Oliver is a six piece band that plays ska-punk, heavy on the punk. Their debut CD serves up twelve tracks that cover topics such as sex, girls, jobs, and the television.
Beginning with "Shot My Boss," this CD grabs you from the beginning. After a quick intro for the song, the guitar starts to buzz. Then the drums hammer away violently, while the bass slams its way along as well. Then the guitar jumps from a scream to a fast paced upbeat. The song becomes very danceable at this point. The vocals seem a bit too loud and overbearing in the mix, but after a few listens you get used to them and start to find they add a different 'flavor' to everything. The song jumps from punk melodies to ska-punk and back to punk again with ease. A little reggae-esqe vocals are even splashed in, giving the song another dimension that will interest the listener. "Funny Way" is a bit more straight forward punk. Halfway through the song it does bust into a little dance party, with some nice horn work and a weak upbeat, but then it jumps right back into some punk that is fast, aggressive, and funny. That's right, even when they're trying to be serious they still have a bit of humor to them. This song is a universal song about a bad relationship, and even with an annoying girlfriend they don't care about anymore bugging them, they still take the 'humor' approach as a method of solution, rather than try to use anger to get her off their backs. "Chuck" starts out with a more ska-tinted style, very mellow and filled with the upbeat, giving their more aggressive side (the punk) a rest. Then the drummer lays down a few beats to signal a change, and the whole band busts into an assault of hard hitting drums, strong bass lines, and a furious guitar. They eventually reverse back and go into some more ska, before ending the song with another serving of punk. "Moped Boy" has to be the best track on this CD. It's funny, is about love, and the 'geek' gets the girl. Score one for the good guys. A number that is very bouncy and will get you moving, and at the end you'll be smiling because for once the star doesn't get the girl, the outcast does! Adequate use of horns, lots of punk, some ska thrown in for the dancing fool, and hand clapping make this song a winner. "Head" is about as horny as they come. With lines like "Waiting! I must be waiting, waiting for some chick to go down on me," this song shows the male drive behind this band. If it wasn't so infectious, I would have to dislike this song, but for some reason they provide enough melody and pop hooks to make this song stick with you for hours after you listen to it. "Daytime TV Talk Shows" ends the CD with a bit of disappointment, because it's not as strong as some of the other material, but just jump back to track one and you're covered.
Cousin Oliver is funny and writes good songs. Although their ska is a bit generic, it is enough to get you up and moving, and does add some nice moments to the music. The punk seems to be their main focus, which is a good thing, because the punk combines their sense of humor with kick-in-the-ass beats that is sure to make every punk rocker smile. Overall this is a very enjoyable disc. I'll give it a B+.
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