Listening Booth: The Bottom Dollars, “Meet Me in Cognito”

Written by Listening Booth, Music, Popdose

The Bottom Dollars channel The Clash’s energy with an Americana twist.

The Bottom Dollars The Bottom DollarsMeet Me In Cognito (2014)
Purchase this album from Bandcamp

There’s one thing that you can never accuse The Bottom Dollars of having: a lack of energy. The first two songs off their album, “Meet Me In Cognito,” are blistering and gritty rockers. There are comparisons to The Clash made for their on-stage performances, but one can hear a little of that horsed-voice honesty in the lead singer, Brian Cherchiglia, on “Peace & Anarchy” and “Devil’s Night.” The rest of the album isn’t as adventurous as the first two songs in this collection, but that could be because like most bands, The Bottom Dollars aren’t a bunch of Johnny One-Notes. Their musical style run the gamut from a kind of Clash-influenced rock to Americana – albeit, with rougher edges.

Perhaps, though, it’s that broader approach that made me lose the plot of their debut. I kept circling back to the “Peace & Anarchy” and “Devil’s Night” while spinning the album. In a way, the “top of hour cooker” (as they used to say in radio) is usually the lead track from a record. Not always, of course, but those first few songs really signal to the audience who an artist or band is. There’s nothing wrong with ballads, but when the style of the music starts to sound stylistically different from earlier songs, it’s a bit of a letdown. Why I keep going on and on about “Peace & Anarchy” and “Devil’s Night” is that the songs have a anxious edge to them, the music doesn’t have that “four on the floor” rock feel, and the vocal delivery hints at a pent-up ferocity. All good stuff when people are saying “Hey, they have a Clash thing going on.” But when the country-flavored mid-tempo song, “When I Left Your Place” came up, it kind of left me wondering what happened to the rockers I was introduced to at the beginning of the album? Sure, “Pieces” also has a country vibe to it as well, but as least the band builds on the rock energy in the last third of the song. “Smoker” is probably the one song on the record that comes closest to the first two songs in terms of ferocious sound I warmed up to.

However, music, like all art, is subjective. If you’re a fan of a band who likes to explore a greater variety of styles, then The Bottom Dollar’s debut album will fit the bill. But, if you’re like me, and like it when a band is consistent in their musical identity, then you may be disappointed.