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Boston Globe
May 16, 2003
Cobra Verde
Easy Listening

Cleveland's most confident and complex band roars out of the gate with ''Riot Industry,'' one of the toughest tracks on its fourth, and best, CD. Recorded for MC5 icon Wayne Kramer's MuscleTone label, ''Easy Listening'' highlights John Petkovic's tortured, live-wire lyrics and guttural, oddly seductive voice. Since the 2000 release of the longer, less cohesive CD ''Nightlife,'' Frank Vazzano's metalloid guitar (augmented by the occasional contribution from J. Mascis, the former Dinosaur Jr. frontman who tours with the band) has replaced Doug Gillard's poppier stylings, Mark Klein has taken Dave Swanson's drum position, and Edward James Sotelo has replaced Don Depew on bass. No trace of predecessor Death of Samantha remains. This is a new band with new power and purpose and an uncanny command of rock's heritage. There's more rock, less glam now. There are power ballads like ''Throw It Away'' (Mascis soars all romantic and boozy here) and the sultry ''The Speed of Dreams.'' There are rockers like ''My Name Is Nobody'' and ''Whores,'' a wildly successful evocation of the Stones circa ''Complicated.'' The subtext is duality and contradiction, the dynamic a distinctive blend of poetics and power. ''Easy Listening'' gives rock readymades like the Stones, Zep, and Bowie a hard, modern, and convincing polish. Cobra Verde (featuring J. Mascis on guitar) is at T.T. the Bear's on Wednesday.

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