Sweet Cobra, Cloakroom, Electric Hawk, Paletazo | Empty Bottle | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader
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Sweet Cobra

Sweet Cobra

Nick Thieneman

Sweet Cobra, Cloakroom, Electric Hawk, Paletazo Member Picks Recommended Soundboard

When: Fri., June 19, 9 p.m. 2015
Price: $10
Next month’s Earth (Magic Bullet) will be Sweet Cobra’s first album without guitarist Mat Arluck since his death from cancer in late 2009. (He appeared posthumously on the 2010 release Mercy.) The veteran Chicago heavy-rock trio have dialed back the spattery distortion for a tighter, more focused guitar sound, while the vocals continue to drift from “hollering” toward “singing,” becoming more a melodic instrument than a rhythmic one. Recorded and produced by Matt Talbot of Hum and Kurt Ballou of Converge, Earth has an unmistakably professional polish, which shouldn’t be confused with gloss—this machine might be cleaned and oiled, but it’s still a jackhammer. Efficient and no-nonsense, Sweet Cobra have mastered the cunning placement of hooks for maximum impact, and they have such effortless control of their momentum that even the trudging “He Tall He” never drags; these guys have been doing this for long enough to know exactly where in the beat every note has to fall. Overall the new album feels like a proud but weary band’s attempt to cast themselves as soldiers in a losing battle that can’t be abandoned. The driving, elegiac “Far Too Temp” refers obliquely to Arluck’s passing: “Shield the candle, carry on the flame / What comes of toil from three that remain.” And in the pistoning road-dog rocker “Old Haunts,” Sweet Cobra bequeath their struggle to the kids: “Take in the scenery, collect the memories, pile up the stories, and retell the tales to the young.” It’s official: rock music is now an endangered cultural practice to be passed down through the generations, like how to can peaches. —Philip Montoro


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