Cobalt Cranes // Flowers on Your Grave
Noel Gallagher once explained the impetus behind Oasis’ massive 1994 hit “Live Forever” as the gloom and doom attitude of grunge bands coming out of the Pacific Northwest including and especially that one band you’re thinking about. “I’m not having that,” he grumbles in some DVD extra. “I can’t have people like that coming over here…fucking saying that they hate themselves and they wanna die. That’s fucking rubbish. Kids don’t need to be hearing that nonsense.”
It’s been 20 years since then, however, and attitudes in rock and roll have shifted. The dour-puss outlook is decidedly Out, at least within the unpunk strawberry-scented bubble that is the L.A. underground scene, somewhat proving the cranky Mancunian’s posi outlook right in the long run. Except perhaps it’s not that the kids don’t need to hear that nonsense so much as they no longer wish to. Surrounded though we are by 90s fashion and musical trends, the casual nihilism and insistence on grim realism that informed underground culture in the earlier half of that decade has been swapped for shiny mid-60s optimism and an almost fascistic naiveté; a pairing that has found a headquarters in Echo Park–itself a case study in ideological projection on the Desert of the Real—and especially within the popscene producing powerhouse that is Lolipop Records.
With that in mind, think of “Flowers on Your Grave,” Cobalt Cranes’ new single from their Lolipop release Days in the Sun, as a thunderstorm on the horizon. The multi-tracked lushness of the band’s previous work has been stripped away for a dirtier feel and more bummed out vibe straight off No Alternative. “California grunge” is the descriptor being tossed around for Cobalt Cranes’ new sound, but the geography of “Flowers on Your Grave” is wider ranging and much more malleable, taking its musical cues from the pre-Brit-Pop era that inspired the Gallaghers (especially the paisley guitar-pop and mumbly vocals of the Stone Roses) as much as from American alt-rock bands (including and especially that band you’re thinking about) and landing somewhere around early Brian Jonestown Massacre singles, when the definitive 60s-by-way-of-the-90s band was on an altogether darker and less obtusely psychedelic trip.
“Flowers on Your Grave” is lucid dream-rock with a purpose, a clear-eyed assessment of something going or gone sour couched in gauzy guitar and cavernous drums. And there’s that melody that never quite resolves, like a question left unanswered. But it’s the chorus that cuts deepest, a melancholy sentiment soaked in the ennui that comes from too much time spent under a relentlessly shining sun: “I tried to take you nowhere/but we’re already there.”
Days in the Sun is available now on tape and CD from Lolipop Records.