The iJamming! Weekly Download: City Reverb
My good friend Chris Coco has himself a new musical project, City Reverb, which will be releasing its debut album, Lost City Folk, in September. If you don’t know Chris as a musician, you may well know him as a DJ – either from the radio (as host of the Blue Room and, more recently, some documentaries on Radio 2), or from the clubs, where he’s been DJing a very Balearic brand of chill-out music since before either phrase was coined. Oh, and there are some people may know him as Robbie Williams’ recent tour DJ, a job of global stadium proportions that I suspect just may have played its part in the formation of City Reverb.
For, unlike Chris’ previous studio projects (and there have been many), City Reverb is a group. Not quite a rock group, perhaps, but then again… not that far off. I’ve been living with an advance copy of Lost City Folk for a few months now, and if I didn’t know it was good from the first listen, I certainly did at the point that songs started showing up on my iPod – and I found myself checking for the artist credit (hey there’s 6,000 songs on there now!) rather than hitting fast forward.
So what, or who, or why is City Reverb?
“City Reverb,” says Chris, with typical succinctness, “is an idea that’s turned into a real group. It’s from and about London I guess.”
I guess it is. The MySpace page includes the following quote, which may or may not be the group’s own:
“In 2008 for the first time in the history of mankind there will be more people living in cities than there are left behind in the countryside. By 2050 a staggering 75% of the world’s population will live in cities.
Is the human race keeping up with the relentless pace of change or are we all becoming lost city folk, searching for soul and direction in the maze-like canyons of our new concrete world?”
It’s an interesting question, especially for someone like myself who, rather than being “left behind in the countryside,” made a conscious decision to move to it. I don’t feel like one of those lost city folk anymore, and I haven’t done since I lived in London 20 years ago. But that doesn’t mean I can’t relate to City Reverb, whose music I actually find quite pastoral.
Lost City Folk is a little bit chill (though a lot less than you might have expected), a lotta bit soul, a surprising amount of rock, and a hell of a lot of song. These are not dance tracks, but rather, concrete (ha!) pieces of music, most with verses and choruses, and even, perhaps, the odd middle eight. It will fit perfectly in your collection alongside those albums you surely must own by Lemon Jelly, Groove Armada and co. You can hear a few tracks at the group’s myspace page: I’m particularly taken by “Time Side On,” probably the hardest rockin’ song on the album, and by the album’s opening track, “Everything Will Be Alright,” which takes me back to the early 90s and those late-night/early morning DJ sets digging the sweetest in ambient dance – something I still insist is not an oxymoron. That opening cut is also one of many on Lost City Folk on which Chris has bitten the bullet and decided to sing for his supper, and quite attractively so. It’s odd to have known someone for so long only to discover that they have a decent singing voice; I imagine it must be even odder for the person in question.
One song you won’t hear on the MySpace page, but which, with the act’s permission, you can download here for free, is “Seventy Three,” a piece of softly spoken soul that clearly harkens back to the same year of our glam youth as Life On Mars. “Stephen Duffy (Lilac Time) helped me with some of the words,” says Chris, which I trust is not the only reason I was attracted to it. (In the late 80s and early 90s, the Lilac Time made some of my favorite music of the last 25 years. Duffy later made a proper living for himself writing hits for Robbie Williams. Therein, I assume, lies the connection with Coco.) “It was supposed to be about Nick Drake but ended up being about me as a kid and my lost brother and all sorts of other stuff as well.”
There are no bonus points for spotting a musical connection to Dexys’ “Love Part 1” or “Reminisce Part 2” – but as someone who once got laughed off stage for his own attempt (“Inspiration Part 2” I believe it was called, written the morning after seeing Dexys at the Old Vic), I can vouch for just how hard this stuff is to pull off. Especially if you’re writing about a lost brother… the real lost city folk. Now some of the lyrics are making more sense, and rendering “Seventy Three” more poignant than it already seemed. I think it’s a beautiful piece of music. But judge for yourself.
Lost City Folk will be released through Dumb Angel on September 15. The new single “City Lights” will hit stores September 1. The five-piece City Reverb – Chris Coco, Micky Bucherri, Nick Cornu, Adam Barry and Lew West – will be playing the Green Man festival in Wales on August 15 and presumably other shows around the UK as well closer to the time.
Download or stream “Seventy Three” here.