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REVIEW: C.O.C.O.: The C.O.C.O. Sound
7.28.2002 by Sean

COCO: The COCO Sound [K Records, 2002]

Three words? Bustin' boppin' mofo!

"Everybody knows that it's your civic duty / to let loose sometimes and shake your booty." Although COCO's sophomore release isn't the "rhythm revolution" it hopes to be, the bumpin' mix of bass and drums make it the pop-groove nemesis of the White Stripes, the funky older sister who wears knee-high leather boots and teaches her punk buddies to appreciate the Supremes. Over twenty-six minutes, the group bounces through eleven smoov tunes, eking some DIY rhythm & blues from the little bit of wriggle space the instrumental limitations allow. Olivia Ness' high, velvet voice follows her heavy bass bump with confidence and verve, a sexy counterpoint to the occasional geeky outburst from Chris Sutton on drums. COCO seems aware of this interplay, however, and there's a cheekiness to "Rinse", where Sutton takes on full vocal duties, exhorting "Rinse and spin!" over a top-heavy bassline.

"Supercool" is The COCO Sound's strongest cut - above powerful, rattling drum smacks, Ness whips out her roughest, throatiest vocal work. She lets loose with a not undangerous soul croon, punching out the words over a crazed smattering of guitar. The disc's songs are slightly indistinct, each a member of the same clean, tight family - lofi James Brown sliced, diced, and reduced to a jazz-funk-punk fusion. It's a bare sound that leaves the dance floor clear for dancing, that fills the air with static energy and a manic "I'm nuts and I'm gonna dance like an epileptic" buzz. It's drums and bass and almost nothing but - hand-claps here and there, a touch of synths, but mostly just bustle and bop. "Cutie pie, you're the reason why," Ness sings out over drum stomp, before the jam kicks in on "Cutie Pie", and COCO doubles up on vocals. The stream of "yeahs" and "all right"s are gleeful but serious - a Blues Brothers combination of the committed and the absurd. COCO is absolutely consistent in its groove, never letting the beat drop, never letting things get messy. Though the songs sound pretty similar - making it a repetition of themes and not a reworking on the funk universe - The COCO Sound is exciting and electric; a zingy, zangy, funhouse of an album. Kapow!

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