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When I write the phrase, “pop-rock,” I can hear a reader’s eyes rolling. I can hear some of you doing it now. Stop it, let me explain. For many, I know that it is an unsatisfactory phrase, suggesting that the artist is either a rocker who has watered down their music for wider appeal or a popster trying to add some integrity to their persona. But that is to get the arguement the wrong way around. Pop-rock is not about what is missing; it is about taking the best of those sonic worlds and melding them together into one solid, satisfying, secret sonic sauce.
As demonstrated perfectly by “Who or What I Was Before,” the new one by Eddie Cohn, it is possible to merge the two worlds and come up with a sound that is more than the sum of its parts. Here, he takes the authenticity, musical weight, drive, and integrity of the rock world but uses pop’s addictive qualities and infectiousness, its immediacy and lightness of touch to create something that is both perfect for the more indie-minded, discerning music fan but which also sits perfectly with those of more mainstream tastes. It’s an excellent piece of creative alchemy, indeed.
It’s a sound that perhaps is inherent in him, coming, as he does, from Cleveland, the town that gave us Nine Inch Nails and Dead Boys, and landing in Los Angeles, where a more glitzy and glamourous vibe prevails. It’s the sound of a rough diamond being smoothed off to total sonic satisfaction.
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