Cotton Jones: new psychadelic sounds

By Gillian Davis
February 19, 2009

Duets are huge in the music business right now. The Moldy Peaches demonstrated the unique combination of a husky male voice mixed with the sweet sound of a female. Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová mixed their distinctive accents together to form a very popular soundtrack with hits like “Falling Slowly.”

If you are constantly repeating bands like these on your iTunes and your ears crave more, check out Cotton Jones.

Michael Nau, originating out of Maryland, has taken a break from his band Page France, to start a side project called Cotton Jones. He shares the tracks with Whitney McGraw, who contributed to his original band.

Originally, the band was called The Cotton Jones Basket Ride and carried this name on many of the extended play CDs. However, the name was chopped in half and he is only known as Cotton Jones on “Paranoid Cocoon” under the Suicide Squeeze record label.

The songs on “Paranoid Cocoon” range from youthful and jovial sounds to depressing and dismal ballads. The second track, “Gotta Cheer Up,” sounds quite the opposite of cheerful. In fact, it is dreary but the beats produced off of the keyboard and the taps of the drum make it seem that the singer is actually trying to make the transition from depression to happiness.

Certain songs such as, “By Morning Light,” resemble the sound of Johnny Cash. Haunting sounds of whistling, the twang of guitars and the clash of symbols weave in and out on this track making it unforgettable.

“Cotton & Velvet” includes psychedelic vibes and Nau’s voice adds a hollow low sound against the whiny plucks of the guitar strings.

The album produces dramatic and vibrant imagery and could relax the most uptight person. The twists of western harmonizing and bard-like lyrics have gained the interest of many in the music industry.

If written description of the music produced by Nau and McGraw is not enough, analyze the album art. The layout and intense mixing of colors could be applied to any song off of the album. Bright strokes of paint layered over photograph cut outs of horses and people truly capture the down to earth beats of the music.

“Paranoid Cocoon” was released in late January but independent music bloggers have been calling it possibly the best album of the year.

You can check out Cotton Jones on MySpace, 89.1 The Burn, or even in Philadelphia on March 24 at the First Unitarian Church.

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Gillian Davis

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