Cotton Jones: Paranoid Cocoon
In the wake of the indefinitely on-hiatus pop outfit Page France, something of a local scene orphan in its active years, frontman Michael Nau has gone on to found Cotton Jones (nee Cotton Jones Basket Ride) with a few other folks from PF. The result is a demure pop-rock ensemble fitted with Luna-ish Western accents and sharing a dreamy, underwater vibe with bands such as Beach House and, well, Luna. The band's full-length debut, Paranoid Cocoon, is an all-around solid affair, the sort of thing whose songwriting meticulousness promises it a long shelf life.
The record essentially has two suits, both well-fitting. After a slinky guitar into, Cotton Jones gets right away into a Doors mode--dude sounds like Jim Morrison and the organ wafts in the background reek of that band's lame druggy psychedelia. But Cotton Jones is a craft band, and this song, "Up a Tree (Went This Heart I Have)," blooms into an elaborate, and enjoyable, arrangement, embellished by micro guitar riffs, pretty female backing vocals--that coincide with some of the record's best moments--and muffled horn. Moreover, it swings. And then, on track two, "Gotta Cheer Up," the record's internet-traveling single, it's a similar vibe with added propulsion and a sweet whistled melody in the background. (Whistling along is an option a few times on Cocoon.) Nice, but it's still not the band at the best.
That'd be when Cotton Jones gets really dreamy--like, wake-up-snapping-your-fingers-in-time dreamy. The understated "By Morning Light" feels like a comforting hand on your shoulder. Nau sings, in a lilt somewhere between Dylan and Dean Wareham, "Love said, 'Mike, maybe this time you're right'/ then of course disappeared into the white." And, with its sweeping slide guitars and long, warm organ drones, "Cotton and Velvet" feels like one of the most accurate song titles imaginable. A lovely ride, throughout.