Hailing from the beautiful city of Welland, Ontario, the members of Cops on Commission are no strangers to punk rock. This alternative-rock quartet consists of a few good friends of mine. Could there be a better place to start writing music reviews? Maybe. Today’s the day I start my journey.
The EP, self titled, contains five poppy songs that take you on a musical journey deeply rooted in the likes of the later Foo Fighters records, blended with local charm. It is a well produced (maybe even a bit over-produced), campy set of songs that you will find yourself wanting to give another listen to.
It begins with a powerful, Bob Mould-style song named “Master plan”. Ambient feedback morphs its way into a surprising, and refreshing, guitar melody and powerful drums. The track shines though when lead singer Andrew Colonico’s voice booms through your speakers. Accompanied by choppy guitar, the vocal melody for the verses of ‘Master Plan’ keep the listener intrigued, and when the chorus kicks in it begs the listener to sing along. The harmonies, also Andrew, really flesh out the vocal track and give a powerful vibe that leads you into the blatant, in your face bridge. Screaming guitars, heavy drums and a brilliant crescendo lead the listener into the last chorus, which seems almost more powerful than the rest of the song combined. The song ends with faded held vocals. Not bad.
'Calling Quits', the second song on the record, is another gem. The dirty guitar riff at the beginning is one you'll be humming for a while. The low point of this song is the overly dramatic lyrics, which make a song (so fun to listen to) almost seem whiny, which leaves a bad taste in your mouth. What won me over, however, was the drumming. Andrew's powerful, yet simplistic, approach to drumming really breaks through on this track. The chorus has another powerful Foo Fighters esque vibe to it. Post chorus, though, things start to fall apart. The guitar tone is just not enjoyable to listen to, which makes the song, at that point, easy to skip. Guitar tone aside, the song picks up into a bridge with, you guessed it, more powerful drumming. The song builds as quick as it falls, and with that we're hurled into track 3.
'Controlled' begins with what appears to be an artificial vinyl sound and another campy guitar riff. Already, it was a struggle to continue. The song itself seems to be another carbon copy of the Cops on Commission songwriting technique; guitar riff>verse>chorus>verse>chorus>bridge>chorus… but, I continued on. The song morphs into what I can only describe as poorly executed. The guitar fill before the chorus lacks creativity (and feeling!), and the generic buildup that we've all heard before rears its ugly head again. The only thing that made the song somewhat enjoyable was the vocals. Consistency in Andrew's vocals thus far is nothing short of amazing. Unfortunately, this song fell flat on it's face. A poorly executed arrangement of 'alright' chord progressions and forced melodies topped with another 'fade out on a held vocal note'.
With every low, however, there are highs… and let me say, ‘Phase’ is a great song. Taking the slot of song number four, this action-packed pop-rock anthem takes the listener by surprise. The energy seen in ‘Master Plan’ is doubled, hell, even tripled! An astonishing blend of feedback, great guitar tone, brilliant melodies and devastatingly powerful drums topped with Andrew’s signature scream, this is a very well written song. The guitar tracks, unlike in ‘Controlled’, actually have feeling. The energy is held through the song… until, the unthinkable.
The song, for whatever reason, takes an unexpected turn for the worst. A forced break in the energy, followed by another unimaginative guitar part slathered in a smorgasbord of digital effects will take you by surprise, hell, even disappoint you. I still can’t figure out why they thought that break was necessary. It takes the hopefulness and energy of the listener, throws it to the ground and screams “hell no!” at them. It destroys the groove the band had, and it’s unfortunate to, because ‘Phase’, for all intents and purposes, was a good song. Not to say it’s a bad song because of one specific part, but it just takes the wind out of the sails.
The album ends with a quasi-punk song titled ‘Throw it back’, which, in itself, is a good song. It’s fast paced, full of that COC energy and charm, but hard to enjoy after listening to ‘Phase’. I think it may have something to do with constantly wondering when the band is going to pull in the reigns with another buildup. Luckily for myself, I can happily say that no such thing happened, and the band kept the groove until the end.
So, in conclusion? The first EP from this band is good, but leaves a lot to be desired. The roots of punk and alternative rock are clearly there, and it’s up to the band to decide how to follow the path laid out for them. The instruments, specifically the guitars, need to be given a look over before pre-production on the next EP or full record starts. Cut the lame effects and just play.
With that said, it’s nothing new, but it’s good. And that’s all that matters. You can learn more about COC at their facebook page; https://www.facebook.com/CopsOnCommission?ref=br_tf
Final verdict; 7.5/10. Could be better, but could be a lot worse.