Sounds of Summer and Cotton

Posted: April 20, 2009 by Mike Estabrook in BLARE -- music, POP - pop culture
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Ah, summer. After searching around Aquarium Drunkard, I found the perfect summer record: Paranoid Cocoon by Cotton Jones (sometimes referred to as Cotton Jones Basket Ride). Former Page France members Michael Nau and Whitney McGraw teamed up to make this seasonal offering. Summer just got a new soundtrack, everybody.


Opening track, “Up a Tree (Went This Heart I Have),” would go great with a countryside drive in July. The catchy guitars complement Nau and McGraw’s smooth, Southern harmonies (interesting, considering Cotton Jones is based out of Maryland).

“Gotta Cheer Up,” with haunting harmonies, seems like the dark drive back on a deserted stretch of road. 

Backed by Nau and McGraw’s distant echoes, the breezy “Some Strange Rain” is the track I’d play if I were gazing out the window at the rain. The album’s perfect pondering-jam, it makes boredom sound really melodic.

“Gone the Bells” inspires urges to go for a sunny, lazy stroll. How can you resist when Nau gently sings, “I was looking for your heart through the flowers in the park.”

One thought comes to mind after listening to the instrumental “Photo Summerlude:” So this is what summer in the ’60s sounded like.

“By Morning Light” is another “summer’s doldrums” track. The laid-back whistles throughout make you want to relax on a quiet porch as the sun sets.

Wavy, meditative imagery such as “ships in the evening sun” in “Cotton & Velvet” justifies the lyric, “There was no sadness / No, nothing was wrong.” 

The band switches things up with the chugging “Little Ashtray In Sun.” It’s a song a cool ’60s kid would play on an 8-track on his or her way to a beach party.

“Blood Red Sentimental Blues,” Paranoid Cocoon‘s staple campfire-sing-a-long, is built around a simple rhythm. But, simplicity is all we want during our carefree time in the sun. Its tap-worthy groove is among the standouts on the album.

The closer, “I Am the Changer,” has a somber tone to it. It plays like the end of a great summer you don’t want to end.

Why can’t summer get here, man?

~ Mike Estabrook

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