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Easy listening, it is not. Yes, on the album's best song, "My Name Is Nobody," Cobra Verde frontman/songwriter John Petkovic alludes to such adult contemporary standards as Jimmy Webb's "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" and Bob Dylan's (via Olivia Newton-John) "If Not For You." And yes, all three songs depict a dependency on a love to find self-fulfillment. But that is where the "easy listening" association ends: "My Name Is Nobody" is a pulsing mix of Liz Phair's "Never Said" and The Clash's "London Calling," complete with a repeating note fade.
Like "My Name Is Nobody," the whole album is dynamic - so dynamic at times that it wants to break out its mix (J. Macsis' guitar on "Throw It Away" nearly blew out my car speakers). To achieve this Petkovic gutted the previous Cobra Verde line-up and brought in many guest players, and the result is an articulately conceived yet raucous work.
The opening song, "Riot Industry," sets the intensity of Easy Listening. Led Zepplin meets Nazareth on the hilarious "Modified Frankenstein," a post-modern Monster Mash where the modern human is "a product of product and surgery" and "too unreal to be untrue."
The altered persona is a favorite subject of Petkovic's, as he believes love and society never allow one's true nature to be revealed. "You're not you/I'm not me" he happily crows on the red-hot "Til Sunrise" because because this new identity is "as good as we can be." On the wistful "Here Comes Nothing" the disheartened lover wishes she could "get out of my skin" and asks "what have we done" while looking in a mirror. In such a fašade "what else is there do but dream," Petkovic concludes on the explosive "Throw It Away."
Overall? Easy Listening is a vibrant mix of thought, groove and energy that no other 2003 release so far can match.
--By Jeff Ehrbar
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