Album of the Week: THE COWBOYS – ‘Room of Clons’

Indiana’s The Cowboys are one of the most ambitious bands operating in our atmosphere right now with an out of this world inventiveness and songcraft so idiosyncratic it’s like they fell out of the sky.

Room of Clons‘ is the band’s 5th album in their 8-year history and the follow-up to last years’ amazing ‘Bottom of a Rotten Flower‘. With this record, they are now in Big Star, The Kinks, or even early Sparks territory. That doesn’t mean they are sound like them per se; it’s more about the spontaneity and eccentricity those bands brought to the table. In fact, eccentric is probably the most accurate way to describe ‘Room of Clons‘. Well, other than brilliant.

The album opens with a short punky new wave instrumental ‘Clon Time‘ and moves straight into the angular Devo pulse of ‘Wise Guy Algorithm‘ with some insanely catchy ‘badum badums’. ‘The Beige Collection‘ is part gothic post-punk dirge, part soaring chamber-pop gem and one of the strongest cuts on this fine album. The curiously awesome and ridiculous earworm ‘Days‘ follows. It’s a joyous tune with its own kazoo solo and is my new quarantine jam.

The aural highlight of the album has to be vocalist Keith Harman. The man is a chameleon of the highest order evoking names like Harry Nilsson, Lee Hazelwood, Ray Davies and he even croons like Scott Walker on the stunning ‘A Killing‘. The musical kaleidoscopic continues with the garage-pop stomper ‘The Human Puzzle‘ which is one of the only tracks that indicates The Cowboys were maybe once considered a punk band.

The middle of the album illustrates the level of artistry The Cowboys have achieved on ‘Room of Clons‘. The country meets Bowie feel of  ‘Devil Book‘, the jangle-pop single ‘Martian Childcare‘, the psychedelic dreamscape of ‘Sweet Mother Earth‘, and the piano cabaret of ‘Ninety Normal Men‘ couldn’t be more different, yet each song flows perfectly after one another. The peppy pop number ‘Queen Bee Real Estate‘ is only 45 seconds long with what sounds like a banjo and a ragtime piano in the background and then Harmen once again showcases his vocal range on ‘Everybody in the World is Happy‘ dropping down into a deep Richard Hawley baritone on the beautiful 80s style ballad. Album closer ‘Susie, Suisie‘ is 2:10 of sublime 60s pop.

It’s clear on ‘Room of Clons‘ that The Cowboys refuse to be pigeonholed. And if pushing the boundaries means more amazing music like this, well then we can all be thankful.

Out now on Feel It Records.



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One foot in the door
The other one in the gutter

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