Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

The Record Vault and Thunder Bay Down Under Summertime Spin Series – Cog

Here is the usual prologue.

My blogger pal Deke over at Thunder Bay had a cool Northern Hemisphere Summertime Series between July and August.

Each week, he wrote about albums he spun during the summer.

Well, the real Earth summer is between December, January and February in the Southern Hemisphere.

So the good act that Thunder Bay is, boarded a Qantas plane, landed in Sydney, survived 14 days quarantine in a Sydney hotel and is finally here to present the “Thunder Bay Down Under Summertime Series”.

Cog is one of my favourite Australian bands.

A band I was in used to play on the same bill as these guys between 2002 and 2005 when they used to hit my hometown.

It’s hard to explain their style, as it’s a mixture of so many different styles. But they have a mood and a groove in each song that takes me places.

For a three piece band, they sound like a five piece band. Their use of the fuzz and digital delay pedals to enhance their distorted or clean tone sound is reminiscent of Neil Young and U2. Some songs have hard rock in them, others a progressive groove, like Deftones and Tool.

Wikipedia mentions that the band’s music is influenced by Tool, Isis (the instrumental band), Nina Simone, Bob Marley, Leftfield, Deftones and Helmet.

Guitarist and eventual vocalist Flynn Gower and drummer Lucius Borich went to Bondi High School together. Around 1996, Gower formed a five-piece metal band called “The Hanging Tree” and Borich formed an alternative sounding band called “Juice”.

By 1998, they ended up forming a new band together and to round out the band for the live shows, Flynn recruited his brother Luke.

They did a residency at a Sydney venue, with no vocalist, asking people in attendance to send them demo’s. Eventually Flynn trained his voice to become the singer as the candidates weren’t that good.

These guys toured and man, they toured hard. They hit every corner of Australia and every inland place that would have them.

The “Just Visiting” EP’s were meant to be a single album but released as two separate EP’s. The single album was released in 2008.

“Just Visiting Part One” was released in February 2002 and “Just Visiting Part Two” was released in October that same year. The guys signed the copy of “Part One” at one of the gigs we played.

“Bondi” starts off with an off time bass riff and a guitar riff which acts as a counterpoint. And it’s a perfect way to start off their recording career, writing about their hometown.

“1010011010.0” starts off with a conversation about “big brother” and what’s in “room 101”, which is alluded as the “worst thing in the world”.

And in case you are wondering what’s going on with the song title, well, it’s the computer binary code for “666”.

“Pseudo” has a clean tone arpeggio style riff, an offbeat drum groove and an exotic vocal melody. “Stretch” has this fuzzed out digital delay riff which I like. The vocal melody is unique, early Muse/Radiohead style. And progressive.

From about 2.20, “The Truth and Other Lies” goes into overdrive, with a jazzy like bassline and the 3 minute mark the most fuzziest and heaviest riff comes in.

“Moshiach” has been their set opener from time to time and it’s a great song to get the amps cranking and the PA firing.

Those opening lyrical lines of “I’ve been waiting and watching and it won’t be long” are instantly recognizable and singable.

“Paris Texas” has a repeating vocal melody of “We’re all going to die”. It sounds unsettling singing it out loud at a concert, but its effective. And that bass riff, just rumbles along, as the song percolates until it explodes at the half way mark. This one is very Tool like.

“The New Normal” came out in 2005, produced by Sylvia Massy and recorded in Weed, California.

The sound is massive.

“Real Life” kicks off the album and it runs through a range of different emotions and moods. From about the 3 minute mark, the song moves into a clean tone groove, which percolates and builds until it explodes again for the last minute of the 6 minute song.

“Anarchy OK” is up next and you get a feel for the lyrical themes on this album by looking at the titles and the pictures in the CD booklet.

“Silence” tells us there is so much violence in the silence. “The Spine” has a musical feel and inspiration from “Bondi”.

“Run” starts off with a synth riff before the arpeggios kick in. It’s a different Cog, still progressive in how they structure the songs, and memorable.

After 90 seconds of ambient noise, the 10 minute song and serious Meatloaf challenger for the longest song title, “The Doors (Now And Then My Life Feels Like It’s Going Nowhere)” kicks into motion with a digital delayed riff as its centrepiece. Just before the 5 minute mark it goes into overdrive.

And the album ends with another 10 minute song called “Naming The Elephant”. A clean tone single note riff starts the song off, which keeps repeating. Then the drums come in, it builds and builds and builds until it quietens down again.

The last 3 minutes with the “so long, I’ve been waiting” vocal line needs to be heard.

Two massive songs to bookend the album.

“Sharing Space” came out in 2008, again produced by Sylvia Massy. This one went Gold in Australia. A masterpiece for me. It starts off with “No Other Way”, one of my favourite songs from Cog. At 10 minutes long, it doesn’t get boring or repetitive.

Once you hear the addictive vocal melody of “Are You Interested” it will never leave you mind.

“Yes their making lists of people interested in this, anyone who speaks their mind is labelled anarchist”

The democratic Governments have more power to spy on their own citizens than ever before. And our leaders keep telling us to trust them because they are the good guys while they do what all the totalitarian regimes do. Collect data.

And the album closes with “Problem Reaction Solution”, another 10 minutes monster and the lyrical message of “working our whole lives to pay for a cage we never really own”.

In December 2010, Cog played what many had believed to be their last show in Sydney. I think the lack of traction in overseas markets and the transition to relationships and parenthood, played a part.

But the story doesn’t end.

In late January 2016, the official Cog Facebook page was updated after a three year hiatus. And the unseen and rare photos kept on coming. Then the single, “The Middle” was released in 2018, their first new music in ten years. Since then, they have released two more singles titled “Altered States” and “Drawn Together” and in 2019, they toured again and did what they do best.

Smash the live arena to bits.

If you haven’t, crank em.

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