T3M Album Review: Gottem – Cool

GOTTEM–originally a solo acoustic act from Long island–was created with no serious intent by Max Gottesman in 2013. For all intents and purposes, I’ll call this the Squirtle phase. Like most developing bands, change in both lineup and sound are practically symbiotic. Although Shattered (otherwise known as GOTTEM’s debut LP and entrance into the Wartortle phase) was released only 9 months ago with the foundation of a full-band trio, the only remaining original member has been Gottesman himself.  With the recent addition of bassist Tom Lizo, guitarist Craig Warkoczeski and drummer PJ LaRocco, and the release of their new 5-track e.p. entitled COOL, GOTTEM has reach their highest form, thus evolving fully into the mighty, level 36, water-bearing Blastoise.

When listening to COOL, a few things may come to mind. Namely, other surf punk acts such as Fidlar, or maybe even Wavves–which is definitely not a bad thing. You know, the kind of music you’d turn on in your friend’s beaten up Honda while going over the state bridge to the beach.  The instrumentation remains consistent with a 4-piece setup of 2 sometimes clean, sometimes distorted guitars with an occasional solo, a bass, and drums, but what stands out above all out is Gottesman’s voice.  It is by no means “pretty,” but it’s effective and fitting, perhaps puts the “punk” in “surf punk.” It’s what makes GOTTEM, well, sound like GOTTEM.

The first track, “I’m Getting Better,” is faced-paced, full of, “WOAH-OH’s,” and promises of–so to speak–getting one’s shit together.  This sets the tone for the remainder of the release. Although in regards to content and topics in the songs and their tendency to be more heavy handed (i.e. loneliness, overwhelming emotion, love), GOTTEM still does not wish for you to take them as seriously as perhaps Billy Corgan likes to take himself with the Pumpkins, but they still manage to get their point across.  The second track titled, “Aziz Ansari I Didn’t Call you Back” and the last track, “Will I Am Is A Fragment Sentence” makes that evident.

Although for a good portion of COOL, fast-paced is primary, “Sleep Forever” and “Will I Am Is  A Fragment Sentence,” proves that a slower pace can be of equal importance.  “Sleep Forever” is essentially one repeated chorus that can, and will, get stuck in your head. However, “Will I Am Is A Fragment Sentence,” although the same tempo, is much more lyrically elaborate and extensive.  The closing gang vocals chanting “If you ever cared you would have called, sorry I am such a bother,” without any music behind it, and subsequently end of the e.p., is easily the most critical portion of COOL.  It’ll make you think, “Maybe we SHOULDN’T have listened to this going over the bridge during the day after all, but and night instead, with complementary 40’s in hand that we got from the local 7-11 as we sit and talk on the beach around a bonfire.”

Rating: 8
Favorite Track: Leech

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