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Over the past few years many things have been written about indie-wonderkid Mat Cothran, the man behind Coma Cinema and Elvis Depressedly. Many of those things have written by himself of course (did he or did he not sign to a Warner Bros subsidiary?). To follow his Twitter feed is to invite written chaos into your mind as he alternates between angry diatribes at people and places he knows, or extreme positivity mere minutes later. Just when you’re ready to write him off as another crazy artist and move on, he puts out another album and makes you realize why every indie publication from Paste and Pitchfork have been raving about him for years now.
As you may or may not know, Cothran put out three great albums under his Coma Cinema moniker and has made mention of laying it to rest last year. Since then he has been recording under the name Elvis Depressedly, and been quite prolific. I’ll admit, when I first heard the newer material, I was not a fan, and paid precious little time to his output since. However, this album makes me realize I may have turned my back prematurely. There is something to be said for the way Cothran can make a simple song resonate so much, and it’s still pretty funny that this is the same kid who was always getting lost on the way to my apartment a few years back because he was too stoned. So now on to the music (finally).
For fans of his other work with Coma Cinema, you’re not going to be left in the cold as it’s still unmistakably Mat’s voice on the tracks. The main difference between this and CC’s songs is the length of the songs themselves, as the 10 tracks all come in at less than 21 minutes, and only one track breaks 2 1/2 minutes in length. The songs here are more fleshed out thoughts put to music than the conventional verse/chorus structure associated with rock music today, and the vibe honestly reminds me of the under-rated “Mono” album by Paul Westerberg. That album was recorded in his basement and songs would end when the machine ran out of tape, and all mistakes were left in.
The album begins with “daughter of a cop,” which immediately shows just how much room Cothran has interjected in his work and projects a looser vibe. The song puts me in the mind-set of another Paul Westerberg gem, “Black-Eyed Susan.” Another new development is the similarity to Conor Oberst, which is evident on tracks such as “prison line (so lovely)” and “waves of bad intention.” However, when I say Conor Oberst, I mean the man behind Cassedega and the Conor Oberst behind The Mystic Valley Band, not the 14-year old Emo-Folk Jesus some have portrayed him as.
Growth is evident, as I see new influences rapidly abound. Stephen Malkmus-esque emotional guitar all over “exhaustion prevails,” latter-day Modest Mouse bass on “prison line (so lovely)” and even some folky harmonica on title-track “mickey’s dead.” While some tracks are growers, there’s not really a bad song on here as each song portrays a unique series of thoughts. And the good thing is if you’re not fond of a track, none of them overstay the welcome.
While not one to ever mince words, Cothran is even more direct this time around with lines such as “all these so-called friends sell me out to meet their ends/ your pathetic, judge yourself, I don’t wanna need your fucking help” (road side memorial), “I ain’t loved my father since I can’t remember when/ I don’t know if I’ll ever love him” (mickey’s dead) and “you can hate me for whatever/ the illusions are in your mind/ all your dreams are free/ and I have to work for mine” (prison line). Obviously having been thrust in the spot-light from such a young-ish age has taken a toll, and as when anyone achieves some degree of success, there is always some kind of fallout from somewhere.
As with all of Cothran’s music, the digital version is free and you can stream it/listen to it below. And I’ll leave you with what Cothran put up about his album when it was released yesterday, “I wish I was sober enough to explain this record, maybe you’ll just understand. Anyway here it is and I hope you dig it, some of these songs you’ve heard but they were meant to hang out with these other songs you haven’t. thanks for your ears.”
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