Mama Coco’s Funky Kitchen: Section 2


Last October Oliver Ignatius released Mama Coco’s Funky Kitchen-Section 1. Not so much a greatest hits compilation as a sampler of the artists that had been recording in his studio. Just nine months later we’ve received Section 2-a selection of 12 songs that represent the past year in Mama Coco’s history. A few of these bands have been featured here before, so I’ll get those out of the way first.

It’s been a pretty great year so far for Ignatius and company. Of the releases through today, four of them have tracks on my top 25 songs of the year so far. Also, albums by Oh! My Blackbird and The All-About find themselves on my top 25 albums. Not too shabby. The songs on this new compilation that also show up on my songs list are The Great American Novel’s “Layne Montgomery Is No Good At Girls” and “The Stick Song” by Oh! My Blackbird. Both fantastic songs and great albums. Check them out!

The lead track for Section 2 is “Sadie Hawkins,” the new single from The All-About. It seems like a continuation from their album Winterpop, with a bit more influence from The Killers. All the tunes by Zac Coe have an upbeat surface that’s constantly battling the darkness trying to bubble over. He has a great summery atmosphere around his music that makes his songs the most accessible to mainstream audiences (for better or worse).

One of my favorites of the bands I was not familiar with going in is Dr Skinnybones. Their song “Bad Education” is lyrically clever and musically compelling. Dynamics change from surf pop and punk to soul and country while Jake Williams sings about acceptance in American society. The lines “As we walk the streets I always knew, I will sing the songs that I usually do. Darlin don’t you ever think that I’m too dumb for you? I’m not good for you,” are delivered with equal parts anger and humility. That makes this one go from a merely well put together song to a great one. Continue reading “Mama Coco’s Funky Kitchen: Section 2”

The Great American Novel-Kissing


I keep waiting for the day when someone sends me a record that was made at Mama Coco’s Funky Kitchen that is terrible. I don’t understand how it’s possible that everything spun out of that studio is so brilliant. A lot of the credit has to go to producer Oliver Ignatius, who is behind the boards on almost all of the songs. A good deal also needs to go to the bands that have chosen to record there. Unknown throughout most of the world, they are quietly making some of the best music you can find. One of the first bands I heard about from the studio was The Great American Novel. You & I was a fun romp, if slightly immature. They’re back now with their second album, Kissing, which came out last week.

I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that Layne Montgomery has taken a great leap forward with this record. His songwriting has improved drastically, he seems to be more comfortable with his voice, and the album has a great cohesiveness that You & I was lacking. I had a good feeling as soon as I heard the lead single, “American Weekend.” In that one song Montgomery was able to capture all the angst and optimism that is scattered throughout Kissing.

I’ve listened to this album quite a few times now, and I think the song that really draws me in is “All The Sad Young Literary Men.” All the songs leading up to this one are solid,really solid, but the way the words mix in probably two dozen or so author’s names is pretty impressive. They also give away where the band’s name comes from. The first line had me hooked right away, “It all started when she told me that she loved Vonnegut that’s when I knew that she wasn’t emotionally with it.” The music throughout Kissing reminds me of a post-punk version of Elvis Costello’s “Pump It Up,” and it’s never more evident than on this track. Continue reading “The Great American Novel-Kissing”