Noise Monkeys

Cub Koda & The Points

J-Bird Records, 2000

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


The usual mode of operation here in the Pierce Memorial Archives is I get a disc in the mail from a label, and I finally get to it after a few weeks (thanks to the growing pile of discs I have to review and the disgusting fact I have only 24 hours in a day to balance work on two sites, a full-time job and a family).

One disc that I was planning on getting to was Noise Monkeys, the second release from Cub Koda & The Points, and their first release in 20 years. Then, I got an e-mail from my friend at J-Bird, letting me know that Michael "Cub" Koda had passed away on July 1 at the age of 51.

I blew it. I blew the chance to write a review without such a sword of Damocles hanging over my head. I blew the chance to have Koda read a review of his work while he was still alive -- and my chance to tell him how impressive and irreverently funny the disc could be at times.

You, the gentle reader, might think I'm invocating the old Irish proverb of never speaking ill of the dead, but I'm here to tell you this just isn't the case. Koda -- who had earned immortality in the world of rock as the leader of Brownsville Station and the author of "Smokin' In The Boys' Room" -- truly recorded an album that was admittedly a little rough around the edges, but is a more than fitting final statement from Koda.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The first thing you have to do is to take the "formatted rock" portion of your brain and leave it at the coat check. Then, slip the disc in the machine and push "play". Within seconds, you'll understand why Coda is considered one of rock's clown princes. Relying on a mixture of off-beat humor you'd find on records in jukeboxes at truck stops and the three-chord purity of early rock, the band -- vocalist/guitarist Coda, guitarist/vocalist Joey Gaydos, bassist/vocalist Petey Bankert and drummer Cool Fred Schmidt -- plow through 10 studio tracks for the sheer joy of the music.

And you can't help but share in the joy of some of these songs. Tracks like "Fast Food - Slow Death," "Next Time" (written by "Louie Louie" legend Richard Berry) and "Spit It On The Floor," Noise Monkeys blares through the speakers like Todd Rundgren, only without the studio shine. It's kind of like listening to the musical equivalent of a car race.

This isn't to say that everything works on Noise Monkeys. Tracks like "Yommo Yommo... Yow!" and "The Fang" just fail to develop into anything on the positive side of mediocre, while the two live tracks at the end don't add anything significant to the picture. I almost would have preferred to have heard a few more studio numbers from the one-day marathon session.

Still, tracks like "He Couldn't Say No," "Look At That White Girl Dance" and "Pusherman Of Love" revel in the pure joy of music -- something that I haven't heard since the days when Country Dick Montana took the mike at Beat Farmers shows. (Cripes, there's another irreverent rock godhead we lost far too young.)

It's raw, it's gritty -- hell, it's even occasionally ugly. But Noise Monkeys is rock that goes back to the daring side of the genre, something you rarely hear in music anymore. It's too bad that Koda & The Points only did two albums in their career, and it's a damned shame that Koda's voice has now been silenced for the ages. Yet we should not look at this disc as an epitaph; instead, I choose to look at it as a reason to be thankful that the rock scene had Koda for as long as it did.

He wasn't afraid to take a chance - a hell of a eulogy that anyone should wish for.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of J-Bird Records, and is used for informational purposes only.