By Ricky Lima
I’ve had the pleasure of introducing some of my friends to both Tobacco and Black Moth Super Rainbow over the years. I explain to them that both artists are fronted by the same person, and they usually comment that they don’t see much of a difference between the two. That is when I usually go into a rant about how BMSR is a more folk driven project with organic textures where as Tobacco is a more harsh sounding, hip hop-driven project.
After reading interviews with Tom Fec (the mastermind behind Tobacco and BMSR) it becomes clear that this kind of distinction drove Fec away from making more BMSR music. He felt boxed in by making his records sound like a Tobacco record or like a BMSR album and that there was no growth in making albums sound a certain way. After a very successful Kickstarter, however, Fec is back with a new BMSR album titled Cobra Juicy.
The first thing that becomes clear while listening to Cobra Juicy is that Fec isn’t out to create a BMSR album; his goal is to make a solid album. A lot of the folk textures from previous BMSR projects are pretty much non-existent. Acoustic guitars are replaced with electric guitars, and on some tracks—particularly “Gangs in the Garden”—the vocals are harsh and intense. This is not to say that this change is a bad thing, because the music is still all at once ethereal, captivating, and unique, but just in a different way than previous BMSR albums.
It would be irresponsible to keep comparing Cobra Juicy to other BMSR albums because Fec actively seeks to differentiate the albums. So instead we should look at the moods and textures created by Cobra Juicy as an individual entity.
Right from the opening track “Windshield Smasher,” with its almost arena rock feel, you can tell the album is about freedom. The song has a youthful beat and a rebellious undertone to it. Even the music video is all about freedom. Cobra Juicy as a whole feels liberated and untroubled, like an album released from oppression and allowed to run through the streets. It is clear that the theme of freedom runs deep through Cobra Juicy and shows a shift in Fec’s thinking about BMSR.
Long time fans of Black Moth Super Rainbow will fall instantly in love with Cobra Juicy if they enter into it with an open mind. If they come into it looking for more of the same thing they will be disappointed. The more structured and solid Cobra Juicy is a clear progression in the beast that is BMSR and signals a change towards breaking out of conventions and expectations.
I think that Cobra Juicy may be BMSR’s most accessible album, as some of the tracks’ hooks have a strong pop appeal. The great thing about the album though, is that the attractive pop hooks take place around unconventional and genre bending songs. Fec blends pop and experimental so well that one can’t help but sit back and just listen to what’s going on.
Cobra Juicy is out today from Tobacco’s Rad Cult label. You can purchase the album from the Black Moth Super Rainbow website as well as stream tracks.
Friday, Oct. 26 – Asheville, NC @ Moogfest
Saturday, Oct. 27 – Savannah, GA @ Graveface Fest
Monday, Oct. 29 – Orlando, FL @ The Social
Tuesday, Oct. 30 – Miami, FL @ The Stage
Wednesday, Oct. 31 – Tampa, FL @ Crowbar
Thursday, Nov. 1 – Tallahassee, FL @ Club Downunder
Friday, Nov. 2 – New Orleans, LA @ One Eyed Jacks
Saturday, Nov. 3 – Austin, TX @ The Mohawk
Sunday, Nov. 4 – Austin, TX @ Fun Fun Fun Fest
Tuesday, Nov. 6 – Dallas, TX @ The Loft
Wednesday, Nov. 7 – Nashville, TN @ Exit/In
Thursday, Nov. 8 – Louisville, KY @ Zanzabar
Friday, Nov. 9 – Columbus, OH @ Skully’s
Saturday, Nov. 10 – Millvale, PA @ Mr. Smalls Theatre
Monday, Dec. 3 – Boston, MA @ Paradise
Wednesday, Dec. 5 – New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
Thursday, Dec. 6 – Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg
Friday, Dec. 7 – Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer
Saturday, Dec. 8 – Washington, DC @ U Street Music Hall