October 4, 2019 Josie Cotton – Everything Is Oh Yeah (Album Review)
In the illustrious New Wave explosion in the 1980s, not only did in music that the genre found its place but also in films. One of the first of the decade’s batch of New Wave–oriented movies was 1982’s Valley Girl, starring a very young Nicolas Cage. Aside from its beautiful teenage-romance plot, the now iconic film featured also some kind of wonderful soundtrack that prominently included songs by Modern English, The Plimsouls, and, yes, Josie Cotton, who with her band had also a cameo appearance in it—performing the hit single “Johnny, Are You Queer?” in the customary promenade-night scene. Now Cotton is back one again with the album Everything Is Oh Yeah out on Friday, October 4th, 2019 via Kitten Robot/Cleopatra Records.
Looking deeper into her career, born in 1956, in Dallas, Texas, United States, Cotton started her professional singing career in 1981, when her first single came out—her rendition of the song “Johnny, Are You Queer?” by the band Fear. She followed this up with her debut album, 1982’s ’60s Sunny Pop–inspired Convertible Music; and the sophomore, 1984’s From the Hip. Her popularity catapulted to mainstream level after she with her backing band starred in the aforementioned Cage-starrer movie.
However, by the mid-’80s, Cotton’s dabbling with acting and her frustrations with the so-called corporate-music politics caused her hiatus from the music industry. The followup album came already in the next decade, 1995’s Frightened by Nightingales. Engaged also in producing music by other artists through her own record label, she was able to make music again only by the 2000s, releasing Movie Disaster Music in 2006 and Invasion of the B-Girls in the year that followed.
For the current decade, Cotton came up with Pussycat Babylon in 2010 and followed this up with her latest release, Everything Is Oh Yeah. That said, the new album will definitely surprise everyone who is not in the know, for its contents are actually cleaned-up old recordings of Cotton’s which were supposed to comprise the album that was planned to become her third, in 1986. Prompted by the currently trending Netflix series, the heavily ’80s-themed Stranger Things, which needed some unreleased ’80s-recorded music, Cotton and her production team decided to take the opportunity. They brushed off the dust of those nearly forgotten songs, combining melodic nostalgia and modern production, resulting in a fun record that embodies the Josie Cotton of old.
Complete with 14 songs, the album opens with the title-track, which straightaway sends the listener back to the prom scene of many an ’80s teen-oriented flicks. This is followed by the synth-washed, big sound of “The Way You Rock.” A clear throwback to the female-dominated Pop music scene of the late 1960s, “If You Really Want Me To” will surely make the eyes twinkle of not only some reminiscing grandparents but also nostalgia-stricken millennials.
The light then turns dim as “Boulevard” plays slowly and sweetly, taking the listener back to the same corner in the gymnasium where Cage’s character Randy defended his love for the equally head-over-heels Julie. Speeding up the beat a bit but still exuding a similar sentiment, “Sometimes Girl” stands out with its catchy keyboard melodies, which patter like those of Berlin’s “The Metro.”
An album highlight, “The Night Before” then bounces its Rockabilly beats and rhythm. Why not—it featured Brian Setzer of the master strutters of ’80s Rockabilly, The Stray Cats. The ensuing “Love’s Love” is unadulterated Rock-n-Roll–styled Pop song, in the league of Connie Francis’s “Stupid Cupid and Shocking Blue’s “Venus.” Less playful but remains rooted in the previous half a century comes next in the form of the Doo-Wop-flavored “Hand over Your Heart.”
With “Money,” the album reverts to Rockabilly mode—another The Stray Cats influence, exuding echoes of “(She’s) Sexy + 17.” The next track, “Far Away from the Crowd,” is a guitar-oriented mid-tempo stomper infused with a trumpet ear candy. Nearing the end of the trek down memory lane, Cotton then delivers a romantic albeit subtly bluesy love song, “Fine as You Are.” Finally, Cotton finishes off her new-old record with a celebratory bang, as the tuneful and horn-filled “Here Comes My Baby” trots its way onto the ’80s-themed dance-floor adorned with colorful confetti and tables littered with glasses of fruit punches secretly laced with fairly 9% alcohol.
Overall, Everything Is Oh Yeah is a must-have for enthusiasts of good ol’ ’60s and ’80s Pop music—that which is made of 25% Rock-n-Roll, 50% Pop, and 25% fun and nostalgia. That is why Cryptic Rock gives this long lost gem 4 out of 5 stars.
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