Cougar
Patriot


4.5
superb

Review

by Tyler Fisher EMERITUS
January 20th, 2010 | 27 replies | 10,366 views


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The 2009 album you missed.

It never fails. Upon the arrival of the New Year, I discover an album that could have been in at least the top 5 of my best of year list. In 2007, I stumbled upon Kashiwa Daisuke’s Program Music I, perhaps the best neo-classical electronica album I have ever heard. In 2008, I discovered Black Milk’s Tronic, a fantastic hip-hop album from the ever-impressive Detroit scene. This year, at the start of 2010, I have fallen in love with Cougar’s Patriot, a 2009 instrumental rock odyssey that organically blends electronica, post-rock, math rock, and much more.

For me, 2009 lacked great instrumental rock releases. Mono’s Hymn to the Immortal Wind, Gifts from Enola’s From Fathoms, and Do Make Say Think’s The Other Truths came scattered throughout the year, but those who decry post-rock as a dead genre won in 2009. Even these great albums added nothing special to the repertoire; they simply excelled at and perfected already invented styles. Unfortunately for the haters, Patriot does add something new to the repertoire, and it went almost completely unheralded throughout the year. What Cougar brings to the table better than nearly any other instrumental rock group is variety. The variety is so great that I am hesitant to call the album post-rock, although it often leans in that direction. The eleven-track album features concise, well-written songs that incorporate everything from a marching drumline to the euphonium (and really, any album that uses the euphonium is an automatic win). With this instrumental variety, the album’s texture is constantly metamorphosing, yet always remaining coherent and tight.

Five musicians from Madison, Wisconsin make up the core group of Cougar, and they form the lineup of your average instrumental rock band – two (sometimes three) guitars, bass, drums, and an electronics guy. At least seven additional musicians appear throughout the album, but even this core group has the compositional versatility to make Patriot stand out without all of the additional flourish. Opener “Stay Famous” is straight, unabashed rock with a powerful opening motif that uses uneven time signatures to alter the melodic phrasing. In under five minutes, Cougar powerfully opens, organically dies down to nothing but a clean guitar riff, and builds it all back up again into a driving, 65daysofstatic-inspired climax. And while electronic flourish dances about the texture, they are mixed so subtly that they could almost go unnoticed, allowing the group to expand on their electronic side later.

Following the spacey yet frenetic “Florida Logic”, Cougar really opens up the soundscape with “Rhinelander.” Immediately, it is clear that something different is in store. The opening is an a capella choir that could easily have been sampled from a Renaissance motet. To maintain continuity, however, the choir continues as high-hat and guitar arpeggios take the forefront. Eventually, the choir fades out as the guitars maintain the harmonic motion. The choral theme replays throughout the piece, but aesthetically, the percussive rhythms recall glitch electronica. The original combination is winning, and the first statement that Cougar is more than your average instrumental rock band.

I could discuss the intricacies of every song on this album, because each one brings something new to the table. The timbales of “Pelourinho”, the classic rock distortion of “Thundersnow”, the synth of “Heavy into Jeff” the perfected crescendo of “Endings” (a song not written by the band but by Jeff Snyder, whom the band references in the previous track), the gorgeous bass clarinet and French horn duet in “This Is An Affidavit”, the blend of electronic and acoustic drums in “Appomattox”, the natural integration of a full drumline in “Daunte v. Armada” – every song has its own unique quality, and each new quality fits perfectly inside the versatile Cougar sound.

But I would regret not discussing the sublime closer “Absaroka.” The song encompasses many of the greatest elements of Cougar’s compositional ability. The wind arrangements give Do Make Say Think a run for their money, with their mix of warm instruments such as bass clarinet, euphonium, and French horn as opposed to the oft-used bright and brassy trumpet and trombone. The Rhodes keyboard lays the foundation perfectly, lending that unmistakable sound for great effect. The percussion is subtle and mixed so that it never overpowers any other instrument. And the mix of guitars is remarkable, a blend of acoustic and electric that allows for variation even in the same voicings.

Perhaps it is time to move onto anticipating and enjoying the music of 2010, but before you leave 2009 behind, take a listen to Cougar’s Patriot. It excited me to find another young band to watch, as many instrumental rock stalwarts are starting to die out.



Recent reviews by this author
Das Racist RelaxLil Wayne Tha Carter IV
The Weeknd ThursdayJay-Z and Kanye West Watch the Throne
Shabazz Palaces Black UpFleet Foxes Helplessness Blues
user ratings (13)
Chart.
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
January 20th 2010



2806 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Does Emeritus not get put in the staff box?

erasedcitizen
January 20th 2010



716 Comments


Good review, this sounds a lot like what my band is trying to do. I'll definitely check it out.

Foxhound
January 20th 2010



4570 Comments


Great review, agreed with your thought on the other post-rock albums of last year as well.

Ponton
Emeritus
January 22nd 2010



5784 Comments


You're staff again, sir? Awesome!

Prophet178
January 22nd 2010



6397 Comments


Can't be better than the 3 you mentioned in the second paragraph, but I'll give it a try.

gasmaskman
January 22nd 2010



1006 Comments


Madison?? hmm, gonna check these guys out for sure then.

Apollo
January 22nd 2010



10266 Comments


album blows

pneumoniahawk93
January 23rd 2010



275 Comments


I'll check this out.

Ghostechoes
January 23rd 2010



1353 Comments


Glad you are back.

Xenophanes
Emeritus
January 24th 2010



10585 Comments


interest is piqued

Digging: United Nations - The Next Four Years

supertouchox2
January 24th 2010



1062 Comments


gonna have to give this a listen

Knott-
Emeritus
January 25th 2010



10194 Comments


woah tyler fisher review

so gonna listen to this then

Damrod
Moderator
January 26th 2010



1093 Comments


This sounds compelling, I should check this out.

Tyler, can you say where it is placed in comparision with the last outputs of Maybeshewill & And So I Watch You From Afar?

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
January 26th 2010



2806 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I never got around to And So I Watch You From Afar, but it's a very different album from Maybeshewill, much less heavy and focused on tones rather than rhythms (aside from the opener, maybe). I prefer this because it's more my style to focus on tone, but I could certainly see where someone might prefer Maybeshewill.

Waior
January 26th 2010



11425 Comments


This sounds fantastic.

Damrod
Moderator
January 27th 2010



1093 Comments


I see. =)

This might not be my thing then, still, I will give it a spin

sexpoi
February 3rd 2010



599 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

thanks for reviewing this cuz otherwise i wouldn't have heard of this band. I listened to this album yesterday and was quite shocked by how good it was. they are a lot better than a lot of instrumental rock out there and they use very accessible melodies that easily catch the ear. I found myself having a good amount of fun listening to this album

fractured
February 4th 2010



365 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Again thanks for reviewing! I'm from Madison and had never heard of these guys, so I felt dumb. The drum fill at the end of Florida Logic after the guitar comes back in makes me feel awesome. And very nice review as well. Adios.

LastLight
February 4th 2010



76 Comments


I'm with you fractured.. Why haven't I heard of these guys yet?
Currently listening to some songs on youtube and digging them. Can anyone recommend some songs for me?

sexpoi
February 5th 2010



599 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Florida Logic, Rhinelander, Thundersnow, Endings, Daunte v. Armada, and Appomattox are all good tracks. Rhinelander is probably one of my favorites cuz it has a killer beat and a pretty sweet bass line that fits perfectly at the end. This band is really good but their shit is so hard to find. It took me a while to find this and Law is like a million times harder



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2013 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy