Coco B’s and Eskimo Hunter: The Fast Track Holy Nova Symphony (Grand Theft Autumn Records, 2003)
Grand Theft Autumn records have hit another home run with this split between Coco B’s and Eskimohunter. Being a small label, they seem to find the perfect artists for the perfect discs. Having released Lassie Foundation discs and one of the best compilation discs out there, Grand Theft has become one of my favorite labels. Coco B’s pop is indicative of the great California pop sound. Eskimohunter brings blissful landscapes mixed with great pop sensibilities. Honestly, when I found out about this disc, I could not wait for it. When I finally had it in my hand, I was not disappointed. Having heard Surfing at 32 Degrees by Eskimohunter on the Soak Your Shoes in Red Wine and Strike the Angels Dumb compilation, I knew that the Eskimohunter side of the split was going to be brilliant. I had also heard Coco B’s Firehawks and Dirtybirds ep1, but it did not hit me like the set of songs released on The Fast-Track Holy Nova Symphony (although, I have since gone back and listened to that ep and I think I must have been deaf when I first heard it. It is equally brilliant). Because this is a split, I will treat each side individually and then comment on how I see it as a whole.
The Holy Nova Symphony begins with Coco B’s contribution of 6 tracks. “Here Comes Sunshine” really sets the stage for the rest of the Coco B’s tunes. It is a slow tempo song that begins with only an acoustic guitar. At about the minute mark, bass, drums, and keys join the chorus. Throughout, Castillo dishes out some of the most blissful vocals I have heard of late. His voice reminds me of a California sunrise with the breeze of the ocean on your face. “Sister Cold Caller” is a fast tempo song that begins with the beat of a distorted drum. Coco B’s really create continuity between the lyrics of the song and the energy generated by it. Castillo forcefully croons “three cheers for the champions/then I’m off to the next fight/I’m off to the next fight” over strong percussion and heavy guitars. Another plus on track 2 is that Eric Campuzano contributes on organ.
“Send Off” has a more melancholy feel mixed with pop. I am always impressed with pop bands that can masterfully blend sadness and poppy bliss. Coco B’s definitely pulls this off. This is a medium tempo track about getting sent off for good. Castillo seems to be speaking about a confusing relationship that ended abruptly with no indication of its eminent doom. Whether between friends or lovers, I don’t know, but, once again, this song communicates the feeling of the lyrics. In fact, I think that Coco B’s creates an intricate intertwined masterpiece, with lyrics and sounds telling a story. “Between a Bird and Your Soul” is the final track for Coco B’s on Holy Nova. It is a slow tempo song that mixes more instruments than any other track on the disc. There are lots of pops and clicks mixed in behind the layered/distorted guitars. Even a harmonica briefly makes an appearance in this song.
Eskimohunter‘s side of the split begins with an electronically/layered guitar driven track entitled “Walking Tour of Space 90013”. I love Jason71‘s bass playing and his ability to subtly accent the song and also he uses sliding in a similar way to Eric Campuzano. Nothing could make me happier than to hear Jason71 play bass again on some new tracks. The song as a whole is intricate, with horn sounds and chimes hidden within the mass of layered guitars and percussion. Jason71‘s vocals are also blissful as they are themselves layered on top of the guitars, and his backing vocals are reminiscent of Wayne Everett or the Beach Boys.
“Speed and Other Forces of Nature” is a Pacifico era Lassie Foundation type song. It has jangley guitars, simple guitar parts in the bridge, and a fantastic melody with Beach Boyesque backing vocals. What amazes me about this disc is that Jason71 made every aspect of the disc. He played all the instruments, sang, recorded, and mixed his songs. This demonstrates his immense talent as an artist. “Surfing at 32 Degrees Fahrenheit” is a track that appeared on the Grand Theft Autumn compilation Soak Your Shoes in Red Wine and Strike the Angels Dumb. Of course, this wet the appetite of many who have the comp. “Surfing” is a blissful pop song with crooning vocals and great harmonizing. Tambourine is subtly hidden in the background of layers of guitar and soaring sounds from the keys. This is probably my favorite tune from the Eskimohunter side of the disc.
I could go on and on about this disc. It is what every music lover wants from blissful pop bands: perfection. Coco B’s honestly shocked me in the best way possible while Eskimohunter delivers on all the hype. If you are a music lover, this is a definite disc for you.