Cougars – Pillow Talk

Pillow Talk

Cougars, Cougars, Cougars. This eight-piece rock (or rawk) outfit has been around for a few years and has a few releases under its belt. Its latest, Pillow Talk, credits Steve Albini and Greg Norman for the recording, and you can’t mistake the sound. By now, you know the sound.

Unfortunately, if you put “rawk” and Steve Albini together, you can pretty much conjure the sound without even having to hear it. Except Cougars has a horn section, too, which you might not be expecting. Pillow Talk actually reminds me of a JV Jesus Lizard with a wiseacre frontman and a few bleats and blasts from the sax and trumpet. “Mouth of Todd,” minus the wind instruments, could have made a decent Jesus Lizard B-side in my estimation.

These guys are just out to have fun. I’m sure that their live set makes you sweat, because their energy conveys solidly on Pillow Talk. However, in their quest to conquer rock and roll, they come off a little indistinct. It’s very much like things that have come before it without much invention. It’s more than a little tongue-in-cheek, too, as you can tell from the song titles alone: “Someone out There Has My Boner Picture,” “Shitstorm,” and “Diagnosis: Snare-Side Hearing Loss” give you some idea.

“Shitstorm,” in fact, will really try your patience. At seven minutes, it doesn’t really go anywhere – and seven minutes is a looooong time. Its bluesy crawl made me remember seeing Laughing Hyenas one time. “Who’s Got the Sniff,” on the other hand, moves into an almost post-punk territory at times, and its up-tempo pacing shows that these guys probably have some punk in their collective resume.

“There’s No ‘High’ in Team” makes you remember that one of the eight members has a keyboard – one whose offbeat melody is high enough in the mix that you can make it out even with the guitar(s) and horns and yelling trying to crowd it out.

If you like high-energy but pretty standard rock, you can do worse than Pillow Talk. The band definitely makes a racket, and though lots of bar bands also make a racket, how many of them have ever really captured that live sound? Then again, how many times did you really want to go listen to the band after leaving the bar?