The local music scene in Arizona continues to sizzle and that’s thanks in part to artists like the Gilbert, Ariz. duo CooBee Coo and Tucson, Ariz. artist, Brian Lopez, both of whom have recently released new albums. And keeping it an all-Zonie affair, both albums are released on Arizona-based imprints. Here’s our take on the new music.
CooBee Coo – Liven Up – Fervor Records
“Gold Mine,” a slow, funky slice of blue-eyed soul that highlights Liven Up is also a pretty good summary of the album. The song is about appreciating a personal relationship but the title can also easily be applied to what CooBee Coo is sitting on here. The mood is different on “Eyes That Kill” where the lyrics and an ominous groove combine to imply impending danger and things have definitely gone sour on “Keep Your Hands Off Me,” a big, Jack White-recalling number with the occasional guitar and keys freak-out.
K.C. Barras and Jesse Morrison are CooBee Coo and the pair remind of Hall & Oates in that they can move from soul to pop to rocking out effortlessly, and do it within one song if they choose. As to the rock end of things, the guitar riff on “Let’s Rock and Roll” channels the same simple but ferocious sound that’s powered dozens of garage rock favorites and “Liven Up” is a smoldering blues rocker with hot guitar playing throughout, and like everything here, a chorus that’s impossible to resist.
With a snippet of chirping birds on its intro, “Today Is the Day,” a soulful groove punctuated with (possibly synthesized) parping horns is one of the mellowest to be found on this most impressive outing.
Brian Lopez – Static Noise – Funzalo Records
“Wrong or Right,” an orchestrated and crooned ’50s-ish leaning ballad is one of the quieter songs here where you can really appreciate the nuance of Lopez’s voice, as you can on the Flamenco-flavored “Glass House.” Elsewhere though, like on opening track “Mercury in Retrograde,” the guitarist/multi-instrumentalist favors lusher melodies that blend in with his voice.
It’s always tough to cover a very famous oldie successfully but Lopez does an excellent job with the Zombies’ “She’s Not There,” decorating it with a few psychedelic flourishes that were not present on the original. The song also stands as a sharp contrast to the gentle, piano-driven title cut that showcase’s Lopez’s penchant for understated vocals.
The buoyant hand-clapper “I Don’t,” the Donovan-esque “Persephone” and “Goodnight,” with warbled vocals that approximate Freddie Mercury at times, close this solid album.