Bloomington's psych-punk four-piece Cooked Books dropped sophomore album Endtimes Forever on Indiana label Jurassic Pop yesterday. In it, the band returns to some of the fundamental, no-nonsense concepts from which it was born, resulting in an organically boisterous rock 'n' roll product.
Time and time again, Cooked Books has found refuge in basements, writing all their songs at lower-level sessions and playing them months later for sweaty basement crowds. Keeping with all this success in the cellar, the group appropriately chose to record their second album with John Dawson at Bloomington's infamous Magnetic South basement studio. Hoping to more accurately capture the manic madness of their live shows, the group traded a polished, clean studio sound for a more raucous, fuzzed-out one, recording everything live, directly to tape, and with minimum overdubs. In listening to Endtimes Forever, it quickly becomes clear that this rugged style of recording is really what fits Cooked Books best too.
The album opens up with the call-and-response guitar licks of "Logic Stops," tugging the listener down into the band's blazing hot lair. Not long after, lead vocalist David Bower – who previously fronted now-defunct Bloomington acts Resting Rooster and The Vegetables – enters the picture, howling frantically over fearsome instrumentation right into the first single, "Excommunicator." One of the album's catchier tracks, the song blends ass-shaking elements of pop with the group's garage core.
Cooked Books also exerts their eerier side in songs like "Tap'd Phone" and "Permanent Halloween," creating dark and dingy atmospheres with the help of swirling reverb. Their straightforward punk nature surfaces in songs like "Stealing Song," "Cops On Film" and "Places to Live." With all of these different sides of the band being represented in one album, one might assume that Endtimes Forever is rather fragmented. Instead, Cooked Books has honed in on their many influences to offer up a refreshing take on the traditional garage rock flavor, giving the listener a cohesive, 10-song portrait of their crunchy makeup.