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Cougars - Pillow Talk (Cover Artwork)

Cougars

Cougars: Pillow TalkPillow Talk (2006)
Go Kart Records

Reviewer Rating: 5
User Rating:


Contributed by: greg0rbgreg0rb
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Click…click…POW! Cougars' second full-length, Pillow Talk has begun. "Toxic Fox Syndrome," a track that had been previewed on their myspace page, starts things off with a sludgy beat held together by Brian Wnukowski's booming drums and Bryan Bienias's fuzzy bass. The 'guitar horse' and 'guitar force.
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Click…click…POW! Cougars' second full-length, Pillow Talk has begun. "Toxic Fox Syndrome," a track that had been previewed on their myspace page, starts things off with a sludgy beat held together by Brian Wnukowski's booming drums and Bryan Bienias's fuzzy bass. The 'guitar horse' and 'guitar force' of Brett Meingaser and John McClurg, respectively of course, soon turn things up about a dozen notches, and Sam Ambrosini's 'synthdespizer' snarls and spits into the fray. Jeff Vidmont and Mark Beening add just a hint of melody with their biting sax and trumpet licks, and who could forget Matthew Irie? Irie's throaty howl unleashes some strangely captivating lyrics: something about a "knuckle licker," a "lazy burglar," and warnings like "that's lady's a cop!" You'll shout along even though you have no idea what he is talking about.

If it seems that I'm a fan, you'd be right. I really can't fake otherwise, and I will continue my quest to tell the world about them. Chicago's Cougars have been on the scene for a few years now, releasing the full-length Nice, Nice on Go Kart in 2003 and the Manhandler EP on Thick in 2004. As my recent interview with Irie and Bienias mentioned, this newest effort has brought them out of their own studio into Electrical Audio, studio of the legendary Steve Albini, of bands such as Big Black and Shellac but who is probably more know for engineering classic abrasive rock records like Surfer Rosa and In Utero and many more including bands like the Jesus Lizard, Jawbreaker, Superchunk, Low and Slint. The result of this pairing is a solid and menacing production to match that of this eight-man onslaught of sound that is Cougars.

Next up is "Scissitar!," which grabs you especially in its breakdown, where Wnukowski rocks the cowbell hard in a 2-against-3 rhythm with bass against buzzing synth octaves, all with Irie yelling "She likes to take control! She likes to dance!" "Who's Got the Sniff" also revels in its bridge when everyone takes a rhythmic role, drums plowing along as all the guitars 'chuck-chucka-chuck' with heavy muting. Then the guitars start to ring out chords as Irie asks the title's question. Plus, we've got more very quote-able lyrics like "I hear she's long in the torso" and "She's got it nice in the pants." Where he comes up with this shit I don't know, but I love it. I could continue on in this fashion and tell you what's great about every track, but I think you should just trust me on this one. Let's move on.

The album all leads up to the instant classic "Shitstorm" at track 8. Thus far, the songs have all been fairly up-tempo and hard. "Shitstorm" on the other hand, staggers between a slow groove and even slower shuffle, with sustained chords through most of it rather than the jack-hammering that preceded it. The mid-section of this 7-minute song brings things down softer than the Cougars have ever gone before, with Irie as close to what you could call 'singing' as ever. As the band alternates between spaced out subdued and explosive chords, the smooth voice of guest Dodie Morris joins, an unexpected move from such an aggressive band. She intertwines with Irie as the band build and returns to the original tempo and crashes to a close.

Also of note is nearly ten-minute closer "Delicate Whispers Is in Cahoots with Pillow Talk," which starts off like any other solid Cougars tune with a weaving synth line, dissonant horn blasts, and crunchy guitars under Irie's yelling, but somewhere after the 5-minute mark they careen over the top into a wall of clashing intervals. Bienas' bass remains on one pitch chugging along for the remainder of the song as the guitars crash overhead in chopping dissonant chords all while Wnukowski goes wild with several smashing beats which eventually plod to the end. It's very minimalistic and abrasive -- some may find it annoying even, but if you like the Cougars in the first place, you should have no problem handling it.

My one minor beef with Pillow Talk would be that the keys don't get their time to shine. I'm not sure if this is a mixing issue or the hollow synth sounds Ambosini chose for the most part on these songs. This issue is not really a detriment to the album as a whole, however.

Cougars have nailed down their sound on Pillow Talk, with their normally unrelenting rock letting up just slightly on occasion to give some dynamic variation to the album. The longer songs show some growth in song development without overdoing it, and the Albini / Greg Norman production lets the band do their thing and strengthens their already vicious brand of rock and roll. Although there is a long way to go yet, this will be a definite contender for my album of the year. GRRRRR!

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
Maritime - We, The VehiclesThursday - A City by the Light DividedGood Riddance - Bound by Ties of Blood and AffectionRyan's Hope - The Trials Of RecessionCougars - Nice, NiceMock Orange - Mind Is Not BrainColossal - Welcome The ProblemsThe Clash - London CallingThoughts of Ionesco - The Scar Is Our Watermark [CD/DVD]The Shins - Wincing the Night Away

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
GlassPipeMurder (January 6, 2007)

i cannot for the life of me get into this band.

but i guess i'll keep trying...

stephens (August 8, 2006)

Everyband is unique in their own ways. Obviously people don't like Cougars while a lot of others love the Cougars. It's as simple as that. I think everyone that commented hates N'sync, but yet some how they made an asston of money and became popular as f*ck. What does that mean? PEOPLE LIKE TO HEAR WHAT THEY LIKE TO HEAR. Stop flaming because they don't play the songs you like.

This album just rocks IF you liked their other albums. If you DIDN'T like their other albums, guess what, they didn't turn to hip/hop or your gay ass Sum 41 band. They still make THEIR version of rock, NOT YOURS!

darkstarm (April 29, 2006)

Holy fuck, Will, shut up.

Anonymous (April 29, 2006)

I commented already saying this album slays. Just got back from the record release show. I'm toe up and it all kicked ass in a blur. Oh fuck yeah!

Anonymous (April 28, 2006)

Cougars rock. Simple as that.

As for Go-kart, so it doesn't sell as many records as Victory so it's not successful? Tha's stupid. It's been going for over 10 years I'd say that's successful.

What do you do Will, other than waste time on message boards?

Anonymous (April 28, 2006)

"Cougars ARE overrated"---

Rule #1: Capping words makes facts out of bullshit
Rule#2: The correct phrase would be Cougars IS overrated
Rule#3: Your opinion IS overrated

Anonymous (April 28, 2006)

vv----"opinion as fact"----vv

Anonymous (April 28, 2006)

Cougars ARE overrated. Saying they can't be, because they don't have that many fans, is silly. People who have never heard them can't form an opinion on them. "Rating" can only come from people who have, who have a tendency to rate them too highly.

Anonymous (April 27, 2006)

And it's impossible to overrate music that doesn't have tons of fans? I'm pretty sure music is overrated the instant that someone writes a 10 star review for an album that's an 8 or 9 at best.

That said, Go Kart is a really successful indie lable.

-Will

ElVaquero (April 27, 2006)

The reason the statement is dumb is that this band doesn't actually have a lot of fans. They're on Go Kart ferchrissakes.

Scruffy (April 27, 2006)

I am completely ignorant to all things Pitchfork, so I did not know they were located in Chicago. How can a city with such a cool music scene house two of the biggest blights on the face of modern music, Pitchfork and Victory?

Anonymous (April 27, 2006)

I just shit my pants three times listening to this album!

greg0rb (April 27, 2006)

Heh, I like what Scruffy said a few posts down...'their fans are maniacal' or something like that. Yeah. If you like these guys, you fuckin' love em and need to tell everyone. Some people think they are too cool to gush over music they love and I think that's sad. I'm not above it, as you can see here.

No, I don't believe their fanbase is that big... I've seen them several times in their hometown of Chicago and they draw pretty well, but not huge. Out on the road I'm not sure they draw all that much. They are not part of a huge hype machine- fellow Chicagoans at Pitchfork have not even reviewed any of their albums and it's their loss.

With this review I was trying to make a statement and draw attention to this band, and if arguing about my damn score makes more people hear of Cougars, then MY MISSION IS ACCOMPLISHED. Thank you, goodnight.
-Greg

Anonymous (April 27, 2006)

yes

Anonymous (April 27, 2006)

"But they are overrated. For one, they do have lots of fans, but that has nothing to do with the fact that that their fans see this band as something more than what they are..."

One of the dumbest statements ever posted in the digital realm. Must I explain why?

Anonymous (April 27, 2006)

"Yeah, you did misuse it. This band does not have that large of a fan base. Just because they have some fans who go overboard doesn't mean the band is overrated. It means the fans are maniacal."

But they are overrated. For one, they do have lots of fans, but that has nothing to do with the fact that that their fans see this band as something more than what they are. Those lyrics are fucking stupid.

And the only makeup I wear is corpsepaint while I'm riding around in my mom's van listening to Darkthrone.

-Will

Anonymous (April 27, 2006)

Like OMFG, this isn't punk, like we are you like, reviewing like something thats like not punk on punk news! wow, I bet they'll be on MTV or MTV2 soon, so we obviously all have to hate them, like OMFG why are you even listening to them, you stupid poser LoLz! They have talent but they can't possibly be as good as they are, so definitely don't buy this album, eventhough I haven't heard it, it has to suck! Especially since someone else thinks it's good!

Anonymous (April 27, 2006)

This band is amazing. I've seen them play about 3 different times and each of those times i've walked away in amazement. Incredible. That's my OPINION. Also, I think the new album is fantastic and is as good if not better than the first album. I recommend buying it. But that's just my opinion. You guys need to stop bitching and whining about how to rate bands and who deserves or doesn't deserve recognition... blah, blah, fucking blah. This whole thread is getting pretty pathetic. Just shut the fuck up and listen to shit you like. If you don't agree with the review, that's FINE. It doesn't make it wrong for someone to give a good review to a band YOU may not think deserves it. That said, Cougars do deserve it. They rule and I can guarantee they're better live than any shitty band you all have undoubtedly been in. Suckers.

Scruffy (April 27, 2006)

Yeah, you did misuse it. This band does not have that large of a fan base. Just because they have some fans who go overboard doesn't mean the band is overrated. It means the fans are maniacal.

Anonymous (April 27, 2006)

Just because you can't handle it, doesn't mean that others opinions are "over"-anything. Cougars shred and you like eye makeup and hair products.

Anonymous (April 27, 2006)

No. I wasn't misusing overrated. "Pretentious" is overused because most of the time what people are complaining about has no annoying pretense. All I have to think is that most of you guys like this band more than they deserve for it to be overrated.

-Will

Scruffy (April 26, 2006)

I think "ovarrated" is the new "pretentious". Is there going to be a new word every 6 months that people use to basically say, "I don't like this band and other people do (Or I don't like them as MUCH as other people do), so I'm going to misuse this word to tick people off."?

GreenVandal (April 26, 2006)

Do they SOUND like Cougars?

Either way, I'm uninterested. Just wondering.

Anonymous (April 26, 2006)

By their interview, I guess it's like Calypso....and doom

Anonymous (April 26, 2006)

I'm gonna have to say that I read that review, and don't really have a clue what this band sounds like.

Anonymous (April 26, 2006)

Just because a band is overrated doesn't mean I think they're bad.

They're just way overrated.

But yeah, blah blah blah (cliche speech pretending to know the people who make me mad on internet messageboards).

-Will

Anonymous (April 26, 2006)

Will has hilarious taste.

i am pretty sure he doesnt even listen to music, he just researches on the internet and finds out about music of past decades and figures out what he "should" like as a punk/diy kid and then talks shit about everything else.

then he finds current bands that cant be found anywhere on the internet and says he likes them, but as soon as anything springs up about them on the net, he will stop saying he likes them. or says shit like "they were good live when i heard them 2 years ago, but this recorded stuff is shit"

it actually sounds like alot of work so i am pretty impressed

Anonymous (April 26, 2006)

Will's a saucy bitch...that just happens to have a stick up his ass...

Cougars Rule...Great Album...

Propaghandi!!!?? WTF?

Anonymous (April 25, 2006)

Haha, Elvaquero likes Latterman more than Spazz.

Check and mate!

-Will

jamespastepunk (April 25, 2006)

Propoghandi>Cougars

ElVaquero (April 25, 2006)

I think Will is either thinking of another band or he has a stick up his vagina

Anonymous (April 25, 2006)

" a review all "

I meant to say "without all."

Anyway, this band is hella overrated and I'm kinda surprised Jesse fell for it.

-Will

Anonymous (April 25, 2006)

There's a difference between enthusiastic praise and reading like a press sheet. This sounds like the latter.

Even if all you people do like this band, I think a review all of the in-jokes and references to site-sponsored interviews would have gotten more people to check this out.

-Will

Anonymous (April 25, 2006)

There's contest to win Cougars new CD on Interpunk.

http://www.interpunk.com/showcontest.cfm?contestname=330&Key= 806803&

You can aslo when a plush stuffed cougr doll. Hysterical.

greg0rb (April 25, 2006)

ElVaquero - Thanks dude, I accept your apology.

Hey look! People being civil to each other on this site! Whaaaa?!

-Greg

ElVaquero (April 25, 2006)

You were right. Sorry about the mix up. I think I might have mistaken you for Brandon Sideleau who does often give 10's. Let my words then be taken as towards fanboy reviewers in general, not you greg. Sorry about that, mate. Cheers.

By the way, Cougars fucking rule. I think I prefer Nice, Nice though, the songs are a lot more memorable on that one. This one's got great growth and a terrific sound, but there aren't as many SONGS as there were on Nice, Nice and it's definitely not as accessible.

COUGAAAAAAAAAAAAARS

greg0rb (April 25, 2006)

Jesse, thanks for the defense. Now that I'm back from work I can defend myself...

ElVaquero - Get your facts straight, buddy, and check my list of other reviews. I have really only given 2 other ten star reviews, Colossal and Mock Orange. The other 2 are my end-of-year lists and those don't count, and the last is Patti Smith's Horses, my one classic review and you can't deny that one. Yet apparently I give everything a ten.

And yes I'm a fan, fanboy, whatever of Cougars, so sue me. That's why I said it IN THE REVIEW. Why cant I review something I really like for once? Usually I review stuff I'm sent that I've never heard of and usually am not too keen on.

So that's that. (dusts hands off)
-Greg

ElVaquero (April 25, 2006)

Finding a reviewer you can trust is wonderful. If they have proven themselves capable time and time again of separating the wheat from the chaff, then they should be rewarded with a special status, as Anchors and Adam usually are on this site.

Part of becoming that sort of great reviewer is actuall demonstrating WHY something deserves a ten. I'm not going to trust greg's reviews ever EVEN IF IT IS WORTHY OF A TEN because all he ever gives is a ten. For every review.

I want a reviewer to diversify and tell me why something actually is good and why I would like it, I can read myspace if I just want to know why they like it. How it makes you feel is a secondary thing in a review, the primary should ALWAYS be a critical analysis.

I don't really mind fanboys or fanboy reviews, I've had to put up with them on this site for six or so years. But I'm probably never going to take them seriously.

Anonymous (April 25, 2006)

"People have to understand that a ten is an absolutely flawless record to the reviewer."

To me, a good review shouldn't just be about what it means to the reviewer. For example, I'd say that Futures by Jimmy Eat World is one of my favourite albums ever. I've been listening to it solidly for over 6 months now, and I probably love it even more now than when I first got it. To me, it's a flawless record.

However, if I were to review it, I'd probably only give it an 8. Sure, I think it's hot shit amazing, but I wouldn't feel comfortable with giving a record 10 unless there was some near-objective way to say that it was flawless. To me, a 10 is meant to be something that could be vitally important to more than just 1 person (provided it gets the right exposure to be as important as its potential suggests).

Anonymous (April 25, 2006)

This album is all business. Fuckin' huge

Jesse (April 25, 2006)

That just means you have a bad taste in music.

Anonymous (April 25, 2006)

This is not a ten, I don't care who the reviewer is.

It's just annoying to be someone who reads the site daily and to see a ten-star review and go OH! and then proceed to give them a listen and be completely shut down. There have been times when Anchors writes a review where he praises an album and I'll buy it without even listening to it, because I trust his reviews.

Anonymous (April 25, 2006)

the guy in the white t-shirt on the album cover looks like the michael bolotn dude in office space ( michael bolton right? or was it someone else famous?)

Jesse (April 25, 2006)

I just like the fact that almost everytime I check a review from Brian it's in the range from 5-7. People have to understand that a ten is an absolutely flawless record to the reviewer. That doesn't mean you'll agree with it, but that's how this person truly feels.

ElVaquero (April 25, 2006)

Brian: I was all set to make a comment about how modesty should be required for all reviewers.

But yeah, I'd give this a seven, really good album.

Anonymous (April 25, 2006)

dudes sound like jesus lizard, rftc, and a punch to the guts. major label soon?

cantsitstill (April 25, 2006)

if you read this site enough, you know a 5-star review is usually bullshit (save a few exceptions: Dag Nasty, Reagan Youth).

i second: if it's not revolutionary, it's not 5 stars.

that being said, it's a pretty good album.

inagreendase (April 25, 2006)

Seven actually means I like a record quite a bit. I'm just more conservative with scoring than most people, apparently. Not every release is BEST EVAR OMG, but there's plenty of solid albums floating around.

I'm sure ElVaquero can back me up on this.

danperrone (April 25, 2006)

...six stars for everything like a Brian review?

OW!

though i generally do agree, i think it's crap when someone bags on someone else for being really excited about a record and giving it a high score

we aren't all chained to giving these safe fucking sevens

robg (April 25, 2006)

I agree in your assessment of cougars.

Jesse (April 25, 2006)

Hey, if you think the review is too inflated, write your own review.

I'd like to point out that there is no scientific way of discerning whether or not a band deserves a ten. It's all based on opinion. To Greg (and to me), Cougars are pretty revolutionary. There aren't many bands out there that sound like this.

Other people think other groups are revolutionary that I wouldn't. So what do you want, six stars for everything like a Brian review?

robg (April 25, 2006)

I bought this the other day, the store must've put it out a couple days early. it fucking kicks after one listen

Anonymous (April 25, 2006)

This album is great, but it's not spectacular or groundbreaking enough for a 10. Punknews reviewers generally need to cut down on the inflated scores. That said, good review and excellent album. Score is what I'd say is proper for the album.

Anonymous (April 25, 2006)

This album is solid. 10 fucking stars. Kick ass rock'n roll!

Anonymous (April 25, 2006)

Pillow Talk rocks! Never heard anything like it before!

Anonymous (April 25, 2006)

I meant this score, not the 2 stars I gave it down below. My mistake, 'cause I think the disc is pretty solid.

Anonymous (April 25, 2006)

I don't know why, but there was a copy of this disc in a used bin at a local record store for $2 about three weeks prior to the US release. It was bizzare, but I nabbed it, and it's pretty much a fuckfest for your ears. Really weird, kind of snobby, yet still not-ironic horn blasting shit.

I think it's gotta be something you want to search out, but completely worth it. Especially for how cheap I got it.

Scootz_McNasty (April 25, 2006)

i like cougars, but i cant find sample mp3s of this album anywhere.

Vincent_M (April 25, 2006)

Please, please, please don't give 10 stars to something that is anything short of revolutionary, for chrissakes!

fattony (April 25, 2006)

maybe i just don't "get" this band, but i don't get how they consistently score so high on this site. they're alright, but nothing to get THAT excited over.

Anonymous (April 25, 2006)

Cougars are one of the best bands and this record is incredible. Great review. Don't miss this band if they play in your area.

Anonymous (April 25, 2006)

I have to say that this ia a band I really wanted to like, but this album is absolutely horrible. One of the worst I've ever heard. I gotta think that the reviewer is listening to something else entirely.

Anonymous (April 25, 2006)

Score is for fanboy reviews.

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