When last we heard from local punk trio These Charming Cobras, they had just released their debut album, Dime Sized Deaths.
We loved it big-time (music, Nov. 9, 2011: “Cobra Commanders”) and have spent the last year hoping for another set of tunes from the killer act.
And, in the grand tradition of good things coming to those who wait, Tommy Archuleta, Damon Archuletta (remember that Damon’s got two Ts and isn’t related to Tommy) and Chris Chavez have now released their sophomore effort, a six-song EP titled Mercy.
Completely self-produced (with help from local rock act Pitch & Bark’s Luke Carr), these new songs show that the band has evolved while staying true to the elements that make them one of the better bands Santa Fe has seen.
“We tried very hard to not cover the same ground,” Archuleta says. “But at the same time, you are who you are.”
Mercy may have that similar Fugazi-meets-Jawbreaker-and-then-hangs-around-Snapcase sound found on Dime Sized Deaths, but there is a noticeable change in the overall feel of the songs.
Darker, heavier elements combine with head-bobbingly catchy pop parts and garage-fuzz guitar riffs, and the EP boasts some downright head-bangy moments as well.
Take the final breakdown on the track “Pipedown,” for example. It’s one of those heavy music moments that reaches into your guts and makes you thank god you have ears.
“This is kind of as dirge-y as we get,” Archuletta tells SFR. “It might sound a bit heavy-metal here and there, but we aren’t trying to set the tone as traditionally heavy metal…the guitar sounds aren’t what I’d call metal at all.”
Having the drummer sing might not be the most common thing in all banddom, but for TCC it’s a definite bonus. Tommy Archuleta is a well-known local poet and brings to the table the same work ethic with which he attacks his verse.
“Lyric writing is its own special hell, but when there is strong music, it’s really inspiring, so you want to write great lyrics—lyrics that tell a story,” he says. “For months, I’ll freestyle lyrics while we’re practicing, just to nail down the melodies. So, by the time we start tracking, I listen to the recordings and start counting the syllables for each line, and then, I insert the words.”
The words he pens can be downright beautiful. On title track, Archuleta laments, “You hate the light, I can tell—not one star will talk to you.”
TCC isn’t done yet, either—not by a long shot.
In addition to already putting together songs for the next album, the boys plan to release a two-song single in the near future.
“We have these two songs that might have fit on the record, but they’re a little different than the others,” Archuletta teases. “They compliment each other really well.”
TCC has already released Mercy as a free download on their bandcamp page, but the official release party for the record goes down on Wednesday, Oct. 17.
Oh, and have we mentioned that legendary UK punk act the Vibrators will be playing the show as well? That’s right, Santa Fe. Take a moment to close your doubtlessly agape mouths and try your best to digest this exciting information.
The Vibrators are the punk band’s punk band—a major staple of the punk-rock world through more than three decades and countless singles, full-lengths and tours. While not as well-known as, say, the Sex Pistols, the Vibrators were always a little ahead of their time.
Unlike many of their contemporaries, the band utilized faster tempos and shredding guitar solos in a genre that seemed to err on the musically simple side of things.
Simply put, this is going to be a fantastic show, so let’s get out and show ’em that Santa Fe does punk just as well as it does Americana.
These Charming Cobras
CD Release Party with the Vibrators
9 pm Wednesday, Oct. 17. No cover.
The Underground, 200 W San Francisco St.