Death of the Cool (The Star Apple Kingdom)
Reviewed by Michael Toland, Fri., Aug. 5, 2016
No one could ever accuse Cotton Mather leader Robert Harrison of lacking ambition. His band's latest project promises a 64-song cycle, with each tune representing a hexagram from the I Ching. Wisely, Death of the Cool boils down the concept to 11 tunes, with content in the lyrics and a website for anyone looking. Let's face it, though: We're only here for the hooks. "The Book of Too Late Changes" – based equally on No. 24, "The Return," and the Who's mid-Sixties attack – boasts an exemplary specimen from Harrison's seemingly endless collection of instant classics. After that opening salvo, his local quartet slathers on sweet country rock ("Candy Lilac"), plangent balladry ("The Land of Flowers," "The Middle of Nowhere"), sneering lysergic groove ("Waters Raging"), winsome midtempo introspection ("Never Be It"), and more. Death of the Cool reveals melodic gems at every turn, regardless of spiritual bent.